Villagers’ joy at ‘smelly’ quarry planning appeal

Campaigner Nick Balliger above the quarry in Hazel Lane, Hampole, where recycled waste is being stored.
Campaigner Nick Balliger above the quarry in Hazel Lane, Hampole, where recycled waste is being stored.

PEOPLE living in two Doncaster villages have told of their relief after finally winning a long fight to get rid of a ‘stench’ that has plagued their homes for several years.

Residents of Hampole and Skelbrooke say the odour from thousands of tons of recycled waste stored in a nearby quarry can make them feel sick and they cannot spend time in their gardens.

Now the end of the blight is in sight after a Government planning inspector decided the use of the Hazel Lane Quarry was not appropriate for storing the waste, known as Sterefibre, because it is on green belt land.

But because there is so much of the stuff already there, the inspector has given the Rotherham-based firm, Sterecycle, 15 months to move it all off the site.

The material is produced from Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley’s black bin waste and is processed to make it suitable as a soil improver and a medium for general landscaping projects.

So far, there has been little demand so it has been stockpiled at the old limestone quarry in Hampole for the past four years.

Sterecyle and the quarry owners, Catplant, appealed against Doncaster Council’s enforcement action after the storage started without consent.

Parish council chairman Nick Balliger said residents of Hampole and Skelbrooke were ‘breathing a sigh of relief’ after hearing the planning inspector’s decision.

One relieved villager, Sue Ely, said: “Thank goodness, and about time. I’ve been reporting this awful stench for over two years.

“Maybe next summer I’ll be able to sit in my garden and enjoy it. The foul odours have made it impossible to sit out and invite people round without worrying about revolting smells.”

Coun Balliger said: “Villagers are absolutely fed up with the offensive odour which engulfs the area when the wind blows from the site.

“People have to go indoors when the smell is around - it is so noxious that it makes many villagers feel sick. There is an odour management plan in operation which was put in place by the Environment Agency, but this seems quite ineffective.

“Villagers complain regularly to the Environment Agency, but the situation doesn’t improve, despite numerous visits.

“A number of people have reported feeling ill, with breathlessness and irritation to their eyes when the odour is present. Local residents’ quality of life has really suffered.”

Coun Balliger admitted meetings of the liaison group for residents and the quarry operators had become ‘a lot more heated’ over the last year.

A Doncaster Council spokesman said planning enforcement officers would be checking on the removal of the Sterefibre.

The chief executive of Sterecyle, Tom Shields, said he was ‘surprised’ by the decision.

“We have six months to stop using the site and 15 months to remove the Sterefibre and we are now considering our options in light of that decision.

“It is important to note there is a lot less Sterefibre on the site now than there was, because we have removed at least 30,000 tonnes since the latter part of last year.”