I have been in discussions this week with South Kirkby residents who are being negatively affected by the foul odours emanating from the Shanks (now Renewi) waste recycling centre in South Kirkby. For the second year in succession the centre has been forcing local residents to spend hot summer days with their home windows sealed shut, this is simply not acceptable.
Local resident Cate Keller contacted me and confirmed that her family is being negatively affected. Having lived near to where the plant was recently built for over a decade Mrs Keller is unhappy that promises from Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and Shanks, that there would be no odour, have been broken. I contacted Shanks (now Renewi) on residents’ behalf and was told that this summer the odours are down to a different fault than last year. Previously a build up of gasses, including methane, were being released by a safety release valve which stopped the dangerous build up of gases. Campaigning by Councillor Michelle Collins last year led to Shanks apologising and the company have since built up a community scheme to keep residents in the loop. I took the time to respond to Colin Fletcher, Contract Director for Shanks (Renewi) with the letter below. I also contacted Jon Trickett MP with a similar letter:
Dear Colin Fletcher,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my concerns regarding the odours emanating from the South Kirkby waste recycling centre, i believe that Shanks are currently undergoing quite a major reorganisation as per the merger to become Renewi. Best of luck with the ongoing work in this respect.
Thank you for clearing up the difference between the gases that caused the odours last summer and the gases responsible for the odours this summer and the likely fault causing the issues. I am glad to hear that the issue last summer has not reoccured since, though i do have a couple of questions regarding that particular problem as part of a list of questions which i would appreciate being answered.
1) Is the gas being released safe or toxic? Has it been tested? By whom? How often? Have the Environmental Agency records of this?
2) If the gas is released by a safety valve due to a build up of pressure (as previously stated by Shanks) then what happens if that safety mechanism fails?
3) Has a pressure build up ever occurred resulting in a failure of the safety mechanism at another plant elsewhere int he UK or EU?
4) Is there a danger to the local school or presidents of explosion or from the gas?
5) If the release of foul gases is a long term issue was this known to be the case at planning stage? Were Wakefield Metropolitan District Council aware of this prior to the plant being located close to houses and a school?
6) Who owns the land on which the centre was constructed?
7) Will there be a compensation scheme for residents whose properties are blighted by the plague of the foul gases? Was such a scheme ever discussed by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council at planning and consultation stage? Would Renewi or Wakefield Metropolitan District Council be responsible for such a scheme? Is such a scheme existing in contracts between Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and Shanks/Renewi?
Regards the offer of a tour of the centre, that is very kind and is something which i will contact you at a later stage to arrange. I appreciate that you work closely with South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council already and welcome that, though i am also aware that Councillor Michelle Collins continues to have concerns regarding the centre and this annual odour problem which plagues local residents. I have also copied the above list of questions into a letter to Jon Trickett MP for his own attention on this matter.