Walleys Quarry: Legal appeal over ruling on noxious smells

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

Mathew Richards lives about half a mile from Walleys Quarry with his mother Rebecca Currie

A legal challenge has been launched to a ruling over landfill site emissions which are at the centre of a row over a boy's health.

A High Court judge in September ordered the Environment Agency (EA) to do more to cut hydrogen sulphide (H2S) levels from Walleys Quarry in Staffordshire.

Mr Justice Fordham ruled the gases were having a direct effect on the child.

But the EA has since argued the judge overstepped the mark in giving them a timeframe they had to follow.

The body has taken its case to The Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Fordham recorded his findings having heard from lawyers representing five-year-old Mathew Richards. They said the H2S risked shortening his life, having exacerbated his breathing problems.

The judge agreed and said he was not satisfied the EA had complied with its legal duties.

Residents living near the site have long complained over noxious smells coming from it.

Image caption,

The Environment Agency argued a judge went too far in setting them a timeframe for controlling emissions from Walleys Quarry, Staffordshire

The judge called on the EA to ensure off-site odours were reduced and daily H2S levels were cut to a safe level by January 2022, to meet standards set out by authorities in the United States and by Public Health England.

But on the first day of a two-day appeal hearing, EA lawyers said Mr Justice Fordham had gone too far in saying it was not complying with its legal duties to control emissions.

Timothy Mould QC said the judge did not fully take into account all the work that was being done by the EA to resolve the problem.

The EA has claimed there has been a large reduction in H2S leaving the quarry since March.

Conversely, lawyers for Mathew Richards at the latest hearing took an opportunity to argue Mr Justice Fordham should have gone further in his ruling.

Ian Wise QC reminded the court of the strong evidence between the emissions and the risk to Mathew's health.

He told the court the EA saying it was doing its best was not good enough and emissions had not been getting significantly better throughout the spring and summer.

The hearing is set to continue on Wednesday.

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