Shanks/Renewi Odour Impact – An Update

Today i wrote a letter to the Mayor of Wakefield, Kevin Barker, to ask for him to show support for South Kirkby and investigate the odour issue. I have once again reiterated that the negative effects on local residents, by the centre, is against the Local Development Pan set out by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and reminded him that it has already been revealed that, despite Shanks/Renewi insisting that the gases are harmless, they are bad enough to cause workers sickness, as noted in council minutes. Nobody seems keen to address these issues for locals of South Kirkby and this is simply not good enough. We elect people to represent us and respond to our issues and concerns, not dictate to us. Simply ignoring residents will not make the problem go away, South Kirkby deserves much better. The letter is in full below:

Dear Mayor,

I am writing to you regards the foul smells created by the Shanks/Renewi waste recycling centre in South Kirkby. Some local residents have been in discussions with myself, also a resident of South Kirkby, regards the negative effect the smells made by the facility have had on their lives, for the second summer in succession. I know that you care passionately about the environment and hope that this is an issue that you can sympathise with the residents of South Kirkby about, and the negative effect it is having upon them.

Some weeks ago i received an email from Colin Fletcher on behalf of the company, addressing some of the questions i have raised on behalf of residents. Interestingly Mr Fletcher states that “the release of gas is not a long term issue.” As the smells from the centre have caused residents to keep their windows closed for two concurrent summers i would argue that this is not true, clearly there is a long term issue regarding odours.

Mr Fletcher also stated that “Wakefield Metropolitan District Council were aware of the plant design, specifically the pressure relief valves, during the planning and design stages…” and that “…This is an industry standard safety feature.” In essence, if i am reading this correctly, Shanks/Renewi made Wakefield Metropolitan District Council fully aware of the “industry standard” design and therefore the potential for releases of obnoxious gasses.

It is interesting then that in Wakefield Metropolitan District Council’s own ‘Local Development Framework: Waste Development Plan Document’ that they stated that there had been an “extensive site selection process” before they chose to build the centre in South Kirkby, on land owned by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. In June 2008 Wakefield Metropolitan District Council submitted a planning application and approved it in November 2008, as Shanks/Renewi themselves point out, they had made Wakefield Metropolitan District Council fully aware of the design of the centre and state quite clearly that a release of gases (including methane) was “industry standard”.

This get all the more perplexing when reading ‘Policy W6’ of the same document which states quite clearly that proposals for waste management facilities will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

a] There would be no unacceptable adverse environmental, social or economic effects…
c] Adequate means of controlling noise, dust, litter, odours, vermin and other emissions are incorporated into the scheme, such that there would be no adverse effects on the amenity of sensitive receptors.

Something seems a little at odds here. Shanks/Renewi quite clearly submitted a design to Wakefield Metropolitan District Council that included a safety release mechanism that was “industry standard” and allowed for the escape of methane, yet Wakefield Metropolitan District Council drew up a framework that clearly stated that the site could only be used if such odours did not adversely affect residents.

Furthermore it appears that Wakefield Metropolitan District Council clearly anticipated that residential development close to any waste recycling centre should not occur as the document clearly states on more than one occasion that “other development within/adjacent to these site would not be permitted if it would prevent or restrict the extent to which they may be used for waste management purposes.” Yet despite this they chose a site adjacent to a large residential housing development which includes a school. It is interesting that Shanks/Renewi are adamant that the odours released are not harmful but that minutes from Wakefield Council’s Modern Public Services overview and scrutiny committee said: “There had been a problem with staff turnover, as working on the belt can cause motion sickness. “Agency staff have been used to fill the gap and will be employed permanently if they perform well. Shanks have a philosophy of growing their own staff from the bottom up.”

Finally, in his reply to me today Colin Fletcher maintained that “There are no plans in place for compensation scheme for residents. There is no contractual requirement to implement one nor was this discussed at the planning stages.” So essentially a site which was demonstrably not suitable for development as a waste recycling centre was chosen, for a scheme which clearly had the potential to cause an adverse affect on residents in an adjacent residential estate and the residents simply have to accept the negative impact on their lives, with no recourse or compensation from neither Shanks/Renewi or Wakefield Metropolitan District Council.

I urge you to show your support to your residents now and investigate the process in to which this development has taken place, clearly local residents are not a priority for Shanks/Renewi. I have approached the Hemsworth constituency member of parliament, Jon Trickett, who has so far not responded. Can the people of South Kirkby count on the support of the Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Wakefield Metropolitan District

Sincerely yours,

Matthew Thomas

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