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I live in UK’s smelliest town – it’s like we’re being gassed | UK | News


I live in UK's smelliest town - it's like we're being gassed | UK | News


Residents of what is known as the UK’s smelliest town claim they feel as though they’re being “gassed” in their homes.

They say the stench from a nearby landfill waste site is like “bad eggs” and “rotting flesh”, that it is making them sick – and is drastically impacting their quality of life. Walley’s Quarry, situated on the outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, was so malodorous that waste deliveries were suspended in April.

Despite this, more than 1,000 complaints about the smell infiltrating homes are still being lodged every month. Exasperated locals are now calling for the Environment Agency to investigate the odours, which are caused by the release of hydrogen sulfide gas.

Audrey Young, a 48-year-old mother of two who lives a mile away from the site, said: “If you look at the bigger picture, there’s nearly a complaint per average household. It’s like you’re being gassed in your own home.

“It causes a lot health implications. We’ve got the highest rate of breathing difficulties in the country. We’ve got the highest number of COPD and lung cancer rates.

“I lost my mum to COPD and it’s not that common. It’s like you know everyone you know has it. A lot of counties have it and we’re the worst.

“The rubbish comes from places as far away as Scotland. They pass 51 landfills to get here. Some companies send at least 10 loads a day.

“There’s medical waste and animal waste from abattoirs. During Covid I was working in care and all we could do was smell the landfill.

“My daughter gets nose bleeds. We get a lot of younger children getting bleeds.

“We’ve had to get air purifiers which are expensive. We’re having to keep our plugs in the bath sink and keep the toilet seat down.

“We can’t go into our gardens in the summer. As well as that we can’t invite people to our homes. We get embarrassed. It’s mortifying. There are two investigations going on but we’re still waiting on the outcome.”

A protest group called Stop the Stink was launched to pressure authorities to take action, but has so far been unsuccessful. Simmo Burgess, 45, who lives in nearby Knutton, joined the campaign group in 2019.

The dad-of-three said: “We’ve been fighting the battle for clean air for five years. The gases from the landfill site have been proven to be consistently above WHO guidelines.

“The gases seep into our homes, with windows and doors shut. Eggy, sulphur, rotting flesh smells. Makes your eyes sting.

“It causes nausea and headaches. The young, the old and vulnerable inhaling the gas which exacerbates existing conditions.

“We have met with numerous Government ministers to no avail. The whole community suffers almost daily breathing in toxic fumes. They have always reported, mainly to the Environment Agency and also our local council but reporting has dropped due to report fatigue.

“No one is listening to the complaints. All promises and no action.”

Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council is seeking permission from the Government to instigate legal action against the site. However, Councillor Andy Fear warned the process might be stalled due to the upcoming general election next month.

Council leader Simon Tagg also expressed concern, claiming the quarry was not being managed “in a good way to stop the odours coming out, and that’s always been the case”.

Denying these accusations, a spokesperson for Walleys Quarry said the site was “stringently regulated by the Environment Agency to ensure the onsite activities do not cause harm to human health or the environment”.

They further stated that the site “continually inspected the waste deliveries and activities on the landfill to ensure that odour risks are managed, minimised and eradicated.”

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