Last night a packed Lonny Wilsoncroft Centre in the New Zealand area of Derby waited with some expectation of news about the future of the terrible flies problem in the locality of the Slack Lane recycling plant.
The meeting was attended by Sam Turton of Go 4 Greener/Shows Waste Management, plus other representatives from her organisation, Ryan Colson, from Colson Waste Management, and Cllrs Pegg and Whitby. The meeting was chaired by Diane Hanrahan from the Action group. The meeting was very adversarial, and emotional right from the outset. Ms Turton and her colleagues threatened to walk out if no one was prepared to listen to them – they kept reminding the audience that they were there voluntarily. The audience were getting progressively annoyed as the “panel” seemed to be more concerned about either blaming others, or trying to convince people that they had been taking action when there was little evidence of it on the ground.
Ms Turton, together with her husband, owns the site – she never apologised once for the problem, or showed any sincere care for those affected. Her demeanour and attitude towards the audience was one of arrogance and contempt. Her body language indicated that she felt that the residents were more of a problem than the flies. She was clear, this was the responsibility of Trent Valley Recycling / Enviro Fuels Solution who had been sub-contracted the management of the RDF waste (Refuse Dervied Fuel – basically residue of waste that can’t be recycled)) -which seems to be the source of the fly infestation.
The nub of the problem seems to be that Trent Valley recycling managed to ship back onto the site, 5000 tons of this RDF waste, under the noses of Shows Waste Management, and then promptly exited the contract leaving it all for Shows Waste Management to dispose of. Trents have a different view to Shows. According to Ms Turton removing the 5000 tons is a problem due to the lack of trucks that are licenced to transport this type of material…..yet Trent Valley didn’t seem to have a problem?
The Environment Agency were not present at the meeting and the panel saw their lack of action as the source of the problem, and maintained that they were not carrying out their legal duty to protect the residents.
There were a number of impassioned pleas from the audience for a quick fix as they were explaining that they had disabled family members who were particularly suffering due to the need to keep windows and doors closed. There were real concerns about the potential health hazard from the flies spreading disease onto food, despite best attempts to keep it covered, the possible over-use of inseticides in a residental area, the apparent increase in the number of rats etc.
There was no indication that Ms Turton felt remotely accounatble for any of this – everyone I spoke to was of the opinion that she was hiding something. She was not open, clear, transparent, and measured in her responses. Ms Turton and her husband were heavily mortgaged to buy this £850k site, and it is rapidly turning into a “white elephant” with little re-sale value. When someone mentioned selling it for housing she promptly, and with a look of glee on her face, pointed out that this couldn’t be the case due to a river running below the land.
A new partner has been introduced to help with resolving the problem – Colson Waste Management. On the face of it they do seem to be professional and have the required experience, but they’re not doing it for free. I was told that their payment for talking this action would be to take part-ownership of the site.
Cllr Pegg and Whitby were unable to reassure the public about the Council’s actions. They kept explaining what they couldn’t do, and how stringent they have been with the Environment agency but nothing concrete for the residents – nothing creative and innovative was offered. They claimed to have been working this since February yet the most obvious of suggestions from residents were noted down to address…tomorrow.
The only guarantee given was that it would all be resolved by 7 July which is 4 weeks away. If we experience long hot summer days over that period then it will be the longest 4 weeks ever for those people affected.
In this situation, the only action that is important is to contain the problem, and protect the residents. Shows Waste Management / Go 4 Greener / Derby City Council / Environment Agency have singularly and collectively failed on this count.
One resident, and employee of Derby City Council, voluntarily agreed to take the necessary steps to start legal proceedings against the owners of the site. I checked that she was going after Go 4 Greener and not Shows Waste Management ( which is a new company and would most likely have few assets).
There are many things that don’t add up with this whole sorry episode, and Ms Turton left many people asking more questions, feeling more annoyed, and more convinced that they were not being told the whole truth!
Categories: Derby News Comment