Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham.
Contact: James McLaughlin, Head of Democratic Services The webcast can be viewed at http://www.rotherham.public-i.tv
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest on any items on the agenda for the meeting.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.
The Chair advised that there were no items of business that would require the exclusion of the press or public from the meeting.
To consider a petition received calling on the Council to take enforcement action against the reopening of Droppingwell Landfill.
Consideration was given to a petition, “Enforcement Action Needed Now By Rotherham MBC Against Reopening Droppingwell Landfill” which had 1,563 valid signatures under the Council’s petition scheme.
Lead Petitioner, Mr. Steve McKenna from the Droppingwell Action Group (DAG), addressed the meeting to introduce the petition and set out the concerns of residents in Kimberworth regarding the landfill site. Supporting information was also provided to familiarise the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) with the site and access routes and in relation to specific issues with regard to levels of contamination, location of boreholes for water sampling and unsupervised HGV manoeuvres in narrow residential roads.
Unofficially, tipping commenced on the site in the 1920s but it was 1958 when planning permission was granted by Rotherham MBC. Phase 1 was the original landfill and Phase 2 where proposed new tipping would take place, governed by the 1958 permission and its regulations. Problems had developed over time in relation to the permit due to regulatory and legislative changes, with a view expressed that this had been compounded by poor oversight and administration and unwillingness for enforcement in relation to planning permission compliance. An application to extend the site in the 1990s led to various objections at that time which were felt to be equally applicable in 2020.
Various concerns raised related to the access road to the site, including that no time limit had been imposed on hours for the operator. Access was via a small lane off Droppingwell Road. with poor visibility on a bend. Lorries came up Droppingwell Road rather than the A629 Wortley Road, which led to manoeuvres in narrow residential areas. The access road also led to a walking area and to Millmoor Juniors Football Academy, with hundreds of spectators watching football tournaments on Saturdays. Close proximity of HGVs, LGVs and pedestrians on the road, which was the responsibility of the Council, was a major concern. There was also a reduced turning circle for vehicles as park users parked their cars at the beginning of the access road in front of ornamental gates installed by Millmoor Juniors Football Academy
Concerns were also raised about the distribution of waste on the site as Phase 1 had been over-tipped by 15’ and with some steep areas and sites of an un-engineered quality residents were fearful that any sideloading could burst the current site. Sampling evidence from 1990 showed Phase 1 contained cyanide, asbestos and concentrations of heavy metals above trigger levels, none of which were biodegradable. Plans to strip vegetation from Phase 1 had provoked fears about disturbance and releasing toxic materials.
Requirements for the operator were in place for ground water testing from five boreholes and the DAG believed samples had been submitted during 2019 from a borehole that had previously been filled in. The group had written to the Environment Agency (EA) on this matter and expected a response within their standard 21 days response time, which would expire on 5th February 2020.
The Chair thanked Mr. McKenna ... view the full minutes text for item 113.
Questions from Members of the Public and the Press
To receive questions relating to items of business on the agenda from members of the public or press who are present at the meeting.
The Chair changed the order of the agenda and moved public questions to follow the presentation of the petition and subsequent questions. In line with meeting protocols, questions from members of the public present at the meeting were directed to the Chair who verified for each question whether the Cabinet Member and officers were able to respond at that time. All questions posed were answered at the meeting.
Cllr Clark referred to the photograph shown earlier of an HGV asked whether it would be possible to request MHH Holdings to apply for planning permission for access off the A629. This would be far safer as this was a main road into Rotherham that had been used in the past when tipping was taking place, as part of the issue was health and safety and she understood a protocol existed around the safety of pedestrians.
- Cllr Hoddinott replied that officers would raise this issue with the Health and Safety Executive and that any supporting photos and videos would be invaluable. Dialogue was needed with residents regarding how to improve access and officers would be asked to look at options.
Cllr Clark queried how a public interest case would be defined if this was not one in the light of what had been heard.
- The public interest test was purely with regard to Rotherham MBC taking legal action against the Environment Agency.
Cllr Hague asked why having obtained a legal brief from a top QC on environmental matters it could not be shown to the Environment Agency to ask them to put in closure procedures and if not why was it not in the public interest to do so.
- It was reiterated that the legal advice sought was for the Council only and was protected under legal professional privilege.
Cllr Hague followed up by inquiring whether Legal Services thought it was good value for money to spend money on legal opinion that was then not discussed. – No further comment ensued.
Lisa Silcock inquired what the Environment Agency intended to do in terms of monitoring air borne particles and in particular silica dust.
- The Environment Agency did not carry out such monitoring, this was up to the operator as there was no requirement in the permit. If dust from the site became problematic the permit could be varied to include monitoring.
Ron Branagan queried the Environment Agency referring to the slippage of Phase 1 as trivial when it had slipped several metres and stopped close to the first pitch, and that having seen it first-hand it was not trivial but a major slippage.
- The officer from the Environment Agency said he was unable to comment as he had not been involved in regulating the site at that time although he had seen the photos and investigation afterwards.
Mr. Branagan followed up by saying that on Phase 1 there was no history of land fill waste management and stated his concern regarding stability as there was no supporting ... view the full minutes text for item 114.
To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair advised that there were no urgent items of business to be considered by the Board.
Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board will be held on Wednesday 29 January 2020 at 11.00 a.m. at Rotherham Town Hall.
Resolved:- That the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board take place on Wednesday 29 January 2020 at 11.00a.m. in Rotherham Town Hall.