Bury South MP Christian Wakeford has called for increased powers to prosecute landfill owners who breach their licence conditions amid  ‘vile’ smells at Pilsworth Quarry.

The Labour MP made the comments in the House of Commons last week amid on-going concerns from residents over ‘foul’ smells coming from the landfill site.

The MP said the operator, Valencia Waste Management, had breached the conditions of its licence at the site, from which ‘awful’ smells emanate.

The comments came following a request by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for an urgent meeting with the Environment Agency (EA)  over the stench, which he claimed “took him aback.”

Speaking in Parliament last week, Christian Wakeford addressed Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, saying: “On the 18th of January I raised the case of Pilsworth landfill in my constituency which has been giving off an awful smell due to the operator breaching their licence.

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“I asked the leader if we could have a debate in government time in regard to giving the Environment Agency more teeth for matters like this.

“Can we have a statement from the Secretary of State for potential prosecutions of those operators who breach their licence so our constituents no longer suffer from this stench and that we can stop the stink.”

In a newsletter written by the EA to Rochdale Council in February, the agency said it has dedicated additional staff to investigate increased odours from the site. 

It said investigations found the operator had "undertaken engineering works for the purposes of overtipping throughout the latter months of 2023 without prior approval, which may have added to the odour experienced in the areas around the site at that time.

It said: "The Environment Agency identified this as a breach of the operator’s permit."

It added that complaints about the site have been increasing since November 2023, with further complaints lodged following Storms Isha and Jocelyn which occurred in January this year.

The EA said the storms had caused tears in the plastic sheeting used for temporary capping at the site, and added it would ensure the operator carried out necessary repairs. 

Since January, the EA says it has carried out several proactive and reactive odour checks where it has detected odour pollution that it believes is coming from the site. 

Last year, Bury councillors heard that complaints to the EA from residents about the site had risen from 100 to 400 and more than 2,500 people had signed a petition to demand action.

In January, concerns over the site were raised once again after Valencia Waste Management submitted an application to expand the site with a new recycling centre at the site, which were approved.

Rochdale Council has backed a motion calling for the landfill to be closed “as soon as is practicable.”

In a statement in December, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Our investigations are currently ongoing into recent odour issues at a site in Pilsworth.

"We are using the regulatory powers available to us to resolve this issue.

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“We would like to thank members of the community who have reported odours to us. Members of the public can report odour to our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

In January, a spokesman for the landfill site operator said: “Valencia Waste Management is committed to being a responsible operator and working alongside our local community in Pilsworth.

"During recent months, we have been undertaking extensive engineering works on site to improve odour control.

“Unfortunately, the recent extreme weather conditions delayed the completion of these engineering works.

"The engineering works have now been completed and the odour has been suppressed.

“We are working with the Environment Agency and have undertaken further odour suppression activity to reduce the risk of further odour issues around the site.

"We would like to take this opportunity to apologies for any disruption caused to local residents during this time.”

Valencia Waste Management has been contacted for further comment.