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Waste mountain cleared after five years

The Environment Agency (EA) has finished clearing a controversial 42ft-high waste mountain in the West Midlands.

Residents originally complained in 2011 about the eyesore at the Brierley Hill site near Dudley.

The director of the company who ran it was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in December 2013 after failing to heed notices from the EA to clear it.

Refuse Derived Fuel Ltd director Robert McNaughton then faced an asset seizure in December 2014 at the EA’s request.

After starting to clear the site in January, the EA said the work is now complete.

The landowners have funded the clearance at a cost of approximately £2m, removing around 25,000cu m of waste. The EA stressed that no taxpayers’ money was spent.

Local residents have previously complained of rodent problems caused by the rubbish heap.

EA programme manager for waste enforcement David Hudson comfirmed on social media that the site had been cleared, describing it as “a long struggle but it’s over”.

He said: “Thanks to local residents for supporting us throughout this case. [A] blot on your landscape is gone.

“Landowners, don’t get caught with a problem like this. Proper tenancy agreement and monitor what tenant is doing.”

Marc Lidderth, EA environment manager, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to work with the landowners to clear this site. Unfortunately, this is not the first case landowners have been left with a considerable bill to clear waste from their land.

“We’d like to urge landowners to be cautious and contact the EA for advice if approached by a prospective tenant wanting to operate a waste site or rent a warehouse for a short amount of time. If any waste is abandoned, it falls to the landowner to clear.

“The vast majority of waste sites we regulate are well run and provide a much needed waste management service. However, we take our role as a regulator seriously and we take enforcement action against anyone operating outside their permit or operating illegally. If anyone has any concerns about a waste site, do call us on 0800 80 70 60.”

In response to an MRW request, Dudley councillor Rachel Harris said: ”There has been a very positive reaction from local residents that I have spoken to from across the ward.

”The visual impact of the waste mountain over shadowed more than just the surrounding streets. People living immediately by the site have been delighted that the area is clear and that the nuisances that they had from smells, litter and vermin are now gone.

”Along with residents further afield, the next step they are anticipating is how long we will have to wait for a housing developer to come forward on what is now a key site that will add to the regeneration of the central town area.”

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