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EA investigate litter escape

An Environment Agency (EA) investigation is underway into how litter escaped from a north east landfill site.

Officers were called to the site after receiving complaints from members of the public that litter- mainly paper and plastic bags- had blown off the Houghton Quarry landfill at Houghton le Spring near Sunderland.

Environment manager Julian Carrington said: “There are measures in place at landfill sites designed to prevent litter escaping during windy weather. We are very disappointed that this incident has happened and have launched an investigation into the cause.”

EA officers arrived on site within 15 minutes of the first complaint and ordered site operators Biffa to clean up the escaped litter as soon as possible.

Carrington added: “The results of this (investigation) will enable us to discover if the site has breached any of its permit conditions and what course of action is open to us, in line with our enforcement and prosecution policy. We visit this site on a regular basis, but are grateful to the members of the public who brought this matter to our attention.”

The site, which was granted a permit to accept non-hazardous waste in 2004, has been beset by resident’s complaints and objections over the years.

With the nearest housing estate only 400 yards away, a pressure group called Residents Against Toxic Site was set up and objections to Biffa’s activities have been considerable.

Biffa suggests that actions by councillors responding to residents’ fears have steadily increased pressure on the operation.

But while the company has become more open about the procedures involved and have reduced the range of wastes tipped at the site, its permit contains strict conditions designed to prevent harm to the environment or human health.

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