Crunch talks on a controversial landfill site are planned.
In an attempt to find a solution to the problems involving the West Carron tip, Falkirk Council officials will meet with their counterparts at SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) next week.
Residents living nearby have complained for years about the stench from the dump and the noise of vehicles depositing waste at the site.
However, attempts to bring the operators into line have so far failed.
Last week, The Falkirk Herald revealed that there had been plans for a third party to come on board and take over the running of the landfill but these hit the buffers.
The environmental watchdog has now admitted: “The current situation cannot continue as the site is not being operated at an appropriate standard.”
Now there are fears that the site could be abandoned leaving a complicated legal minefield behind over who has to remediate the site – and who will foot the bill.
SEPA has revealed that it is currently looking at enforcement action as an option for resolving the situation.
However, the main stumbling block appears to be that the permit which allows the landfill to be used is in the hands of a company in liquidation, G R Services.
It was granted permission to operate a non-hazardous landfill at West Carron in 2007. Since then SEPA admit there have been a number of issues surrounding the ownership, management and operation of the site which led to “justified concerns” from local residents.
Oran Ltd, which took over the landfill operators, went into administration last year and, in March, G R Services went into liquidation.
A C & H Orn 6 Ltd was then set up and now owns the landfill – although the permit to run it is still with the defunct company, while Oran Environmental Solutions operates the waste management business.
A spokesperson for SEPA said an application had been made to transfer the permit to the new owners, but added: “As this company has been unable to demonstrate that it can satisfy the requirement to provide financial provision and demonstrate it will have control of the operations of the site such that they comply with the conditions of the permit, we have not been able to effect this transfer.”
Plans were then put forward in March for a another landfill operator to take over the site, undertake closure and restoration works within 18 months and appeared to offer a solution all round. But last week came the news that the deal was off.
The spokesperson said: “This is very disappointing as the proposal was very attractive. It would have accelerated the closure of the site, completed it with material which would have a very much reduced environmental impact, and ensured the operation of the site was in the hands of a credible and experienced landfill operator.”
SEPA has admitted taking enforcement action was “very complex”, mainly because the permit was with the liquidated company.
It is exploring what would be the most appropriate action to take, based on the level of risk posed by the landfill, and this could even see the licence revoked – although there are restrictions on taking such a step.