Environment Agency faces calls to explain failure in tackling problem
A controversial landfill site in Belfast that has been plaguing residents with a foul stench has had 10 Odour Management Plans (OMPs) revised in the last nine years, it can be revealed.
Residents and local councillors have been raising their concerns over the smell coming from the Mullaghglass landfill in the west of the city for a decade, which has left many unable to open their windows due to the ‘knock-you-out’ odour.
Information from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) shows that the first OMP had been put in place in March 2012, with the latest revision agreed in March this year.
The foul stench affects those living in west Belfast and beyond. Back in May, one resident launched legal action over the smell.
SDLP Belfast councillor Brian Heading said it “beggars belief” that the first attempt to address this issue was in 2012 and here we are “still looking for action so that residents can go about their lives without being afflicted by this smell”.
“My constituents in west Belfast have been plagued by the foul odour coming from this site for nearly 10 years, with it also affecting people as far away as Lisburn,” he said.
“I have asked the NIEA to provide me with full details of these odour management plans but have been informed it is not possible at this time due to staffing issues. I would call on them to provide the information as soon as possible so we can establish exactly what action was taken to try and address this long-standing issue and why it has consistently failed to tackle the problem.
“The time has come to solve this problem once and for all. It is affecting people’s quality of life with reports of headaches, breathing difficulties and nosebleeds among those affected. There can be no more excuses, there has been more than enough time given to try and address this issue.
“NIEA and Environment Minister Edwin Poots and his department must ensure this problem is dealt with so that every resident can enjoy clean air and go about their lives without being affected by this landfill. If it cannot be operated in a way that doesn’t impact on the lives of local residents then it should be closed.”
Operators of the sight, Alpha Resource Management, were issued with an abatement notice by Belfast City Council over the issue back in May. This notice is handed out if council officials deem a site is causing conditions that are a risk to health and, in this case, asks operators to halt the “nuisance arising from the odour”.
It followed a vote the previous month by Belfast councillors to prepare legal action against the NIEA and the site operators over the stench.
Alpha Resource Management was contacted for comment.
The firm previously said: “We work to the highest environmental and industry standards and we are absolutely committed to being good neighbours.
“We are in regular contact with the local community and its representatives to thoroughly investigate any complaints and we comply in full with the required permit of the site, continually reviewing all aspects of its management and regulation with the statutory authority and industry regulators.”
Earlier this month, People Before Profit organised a protest against the landfill at Mount Eagles play park, after handing out leaflets to residents reading: ‘Enough is Enough, We Demand Clean Air’.
Hundreds of open letters have been sent to the NIEA over the issue in recent years.