Landfill plan threatens herd
By Shelley Wright
THE planned expansion of a landfill site is threatening the health of a Wiltshire pedigree dairy herd.
Gerald Carter, Bentham Farm, runs 60 cows on 73ha (180 acres) at Purton near Swindon. The existing tip is only 300m from Mr Carters farmhouse, and rubbish from it blows over the fields where his cows graze.
While the problem is irritating but manageable at the moment, Mr Carter fears conditions will get worse. The sites owner, Hills Aggregates, has applied to Wilts County Council to extend the tip over a further 23ha (57 acres) along the edge of Mr Carters fields.
The planning application has already been rejected by Purton Parish Council and North Wilts District Council who are concerned about the threat of environmental damage. But the final decision lies with the county council which will consider the application later this year.
Mr Carter has submitted his objections to the council with supporting letters from his vet and his milk buyer who both back his claims that the proposed waste disposal extension is an environmental and health hazard.
The landfill site is currently licensed to take commercial, industrial and household waste. "It extracts clay from the ground and then fills the cells with waste, caps them with clay and covers them in topsoil," said Mr Carter. "The original plans said that screenings would be put up to stop the rubbish blowing off the tip, but it hasnt done it." Gulls and crows also spread the waste from the site.
Mr Carter has complained to the company about the litter that reaches his fields. Hills offered to send one of its employees each week to litter-pick. "But that doesnt solve the problem, does it?" said Mr Carter. And while none of his cows has been injured by any of the rubbish, Mr Carter said he has seen them eating various plastic containers, especially those used for yellow spreads and soft cheese.
The new site will be operational by the turn of the century. "In its planning application, it said that it would put up screenings and designate 6.8ha (17 acres) for tree planting and nature conservation, with another 3.6ha (9 acres) along the river devoted to a nature reserve. But these things take time to establish and it hasnt made any attempt to start work yet," Mr Carter said.
No one from Hills was available for comment. *