‘TOXIC’ gases from a former landfill site which ‘might be causing respiratory disorders in children’ may have been overlooked by the council and could continue for another 21 months.

Allegations of children suffering breathing problems as a consequence of harmful particles coming from a major restoration project on land near Hollybush Lane, in Tatling End, Denham, emerged during a Strategic Sites Committee, on Thursday, December 17.

Bucks Free Press:

The former mineral extraction and landfill site was “restored” some 65 years ago using inert, industrial, commercial, and domestic waste.

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However, it was later found the job was “poor-quality” and the area was expelling leachate (water percolated through soil) and gases harmful to the environment and of ‘risk to human health’.

Works to restore the 45-hectare plot to agricultural land started in July 2017 and the applicant, a Mr N. Connolly, was given three years and six months (January 13, 2021) to ensure completion by which time “all plant, machinery and equipment”, other than for on-going maintenance, must be removed.

Bucks Free Press:

However, Mr Connolly has since requested an extension on the time limit until October 31, 2022. He said bad weather, the pandemic, materials availability, and a temporary closure of Hollybush Lane are reasons for failure to finish the job on time.

The operator is tasked to restore the area, control gases and “prevent water infiltrating into the historic waste mass”, by constructing a clay cap overlain with sub and topsoils. Landscaping and habitat creation will follow.

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The job already requires hundreds of HGV movements of imported “fill” a week – and between 178,000 and 240,000 cubic metres of material is still needed overall, possibly resulting in an estimated 128 HGV movements a day (64 in, 64 out).

Bucks Free Press:

Additional to more than 100 letters of objection, there have also been complaints about the number of HGV trips, resulting traffic and potholes, and ‘continuous noise, dust and fumes’.

A spokesperson for Denham Parish Council said it is “totally opposed to any extension of this controversial project”. Adding: “Several children have been diagnosed with respiratory disorders since the operation began, which may or may not be related.”

Bucks Free Press:

While Cllr Llew Monger asked for evidence of this, he later asked why the application had not come sooner. He added: “I think the answer is in the fact the applicant isn’t here today – they don’t care.

“They’re taking it for granted that they’ll get an extension.

“We’ve had evidence of daily and hourly vehicle movements being abused; allegations of children with respiratory disorders as a result of activities on the site; a lack of management on the part of [Buckinghamshire] council; there’s been no investigation as to whether the leaking of leachate and gases has stopped. It’s appalling.”

Bucks Free Press:

He recommended the application be returned and re-represented with an extension of no more than 12 months.

But by close of business, members voted unanimously for Cllr Richard Newcombe’s proposal to defer approval to council officers, subject to additional conditions for monitoring progress and preventing a further extension on the newly extended date.

Council officers also recommend in their report quarterly updates of progress, as well as a monthly record of activity.

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