Toxic contamination fix may take 3 years, 55 lorries a day

An aerial view of Ugley Landfill off the B1383, Essex

An aerial view of Ugley Landfill off the B1383, Essex - Credit: Google Maps

Works to reduce the amount of contaminated run-off from a landfill site could mean up to 55 daily lorry movements for as many as three years to transport thousands of tonnes of soil.

After the works at Ugley landfill site, operators Biffa want to install a 2.4MW solar array on the top which could generate enough power for more than 500 homes.

The site is a former sand and gravel quarry which has been restored since 2010 to agricultural land.

Biffa has determined that the existing Geosynthetic Clay Liner cap to keep in toxins is not performing as it should be.

High levels of leachate – contaminated liquid that is generated from water percolating through a solid waste disposal site – have been found to occur around three months after periods of heavy rainfall.

As a result, two tankers a day currently visit the site to remove leachate for processing. Biffa says this is not a sustainable option, either environmentally or commercially, according to documents lodged with Essex County Council.

Biffa says that in addition to re-capping, the soils above will need to be reprofiled to create a domed-shape profile, constructed with approximately 430,000 cubic metres of soil. This work is anticipated to take approximately three years to complete.

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The paperwork proposes that deliveries are made using 32-tonne tipper trucks to reduce the overall number of vehicle movements.

It is anticipated that the proposals will generate up to 55 daily (110 two-way) movements.

The site is only accessible from Cambridge Road which links Stansted Mountfichet and Saffron Walden.

Biffa is also using this opportunity to propose the installation of a 2.4MW solar array as part of the revised restoration scheme.

The solar array is proposed to be installed over a 12-acre section of the site.

The site already produces enough biogas to generate 1.1 MW of electricity that way.

As part of their plans, Biffa has asked for a Screening Opinion to determine whether the proposal constitutes development requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

A Noise Impact Assessment will be prepared and submitted to support the planning application, to assess the potential noise and vibration impacts during the construction and operation phases of the main re-capping and re-profiling project.

Biffa does not anticipate that there will be any significant adverse effects with respect to noise.

A statement added: “Having considered the most relevant topics, it is not considered that the proposed development will give rise to any significant adverse impacts on the environment.

“It is therefore our view that the development as proposed does not constitute EIA development.”

Uttlesford District Council is due to determine the application by May 20.