Potential impacts on human health
The potential for direct and indirect effects on the health of people living and working around the site if the site was to be extended has been assessed.
The nature of the operational activities and the wastes accepted at the site will not change significantly and, while they may take place over a larger area overall and for a longer time, the active area and intensity of operations at any one time would not be significantly different to the currently consented activities.
The potential impacts of non-radiological and radiological effects on people and the environment previously have been assessed as part of the process for granting the current DCO and Environmental Permits for the current hazardous waste and LLW landfill site and the waste treatment and recovery facility. The granting of these consents confirms that any impacts are considered to be acceptable.
There are three essential elements to assessing risk associated with emissions:
- a contaminant source which has the potential to cause harm to human health or the environment;
- a receptor which in general terms is something that could be affected adversely by the contaminant such as people, a water body or an ecological system; and
- a pathway or route by which a receptor can be exposed to and affected by the contaminant.
Each of the elements can exist independently but a risk can be present only where they are linked together so that a contaminant can affect a receptor by a pathway. The identification of risk in this way is referred to as the source-pathway- receptor methodology and the linked combination of contaminant-pathway-receptor is referred to as a pollutant linkage or exposure pathway. In order to understand and assess the potential risks associated with a proposed development it is necessary to identify the potential exposure pathways associated with emissions from the facility and to assess the effects that may result from the identified exposures. A number of possible pathways which might have the potential to expose people to contaminants which might affect their health have been identified and are assessed through risk assessments including for routine as well as unexpected events (accidents). The risk assessments demonstrate that the potential exposure pathways can be controlled such that emissions remain below threshold limits that are set for the protection of people and the environment.
The full and detailed risk assessments that will be provided with the Environmental Permit applications will be scrutinised robustly by the Environment Agency and Environmental Permits will not be issued unless the Environment Agency is satisfied that the site can be operated safely and that the health of those living and working at or near the site is protected.
The ENRMF will continue to be monitored and regulated through Environmental Permits to confirm that it is operating in compliance with all appropriate standards. The results of the monitoring will continue to be made available on the company web site to provide confidence that the site is being managed effectively.
Ecology and biodiversity
Extensive ecological surveys have been carried out at the site and further ecological surveys are currently being undertaken. The following aspects of the proposed western extension area have been identified as being ecologically important features
- The habitats and plant communities that provide habitat for important species including amphibians, reptiles, badgers and invertebrates.
- The amphibian and reptile populations.
- Bats, particularly in the adjacent woodlands.
- The invertebrate populations particularly species using the margins between the site and the woodland.
The detailed design of the landfill extension area is currently being developed taking into account the findings from the ecology surveys and measures to protect the ecology on site will be included in the final design. The extension site area is largely agricultural land which typically has a low level of biodiversity. The restoration scheme is being designed to provide significant biodiversity gain. With the planned avoidance, protection and mitigation measures in place there will be no significant adverse impacts on biodiversity throughout the operational stage of the proposed development and there will be a large positive net gain in biodiversity on completion of restoration.
Landscape and visual impacts
A landscape and visual impact assessment has been carried out. The site is location is generally visually enclosed within the landscape. There may be partial distant views of infilling operations in the southern area of the western extension. After the restoration stage the significance of any visual effects will be beneficial due to the restoration of the site and the establishment of woodland and scrub vegetation which will merge well with the adjacent woodland. The assessment concludes that there will be significant beneficial impacts on landscape features and character as a result of the proposed restoration of the site.
Soil resources and agriculture
An assessment of the impacts on soil resources has been prepared. A survey has been undertaken to establish the quality of the soil of the present agricultural fields. As it is not proposed to return the site to agricultural use there will be a permanent loss of approximately 6 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land and a loss of approximately 20 hectares of lower quality agricultural land as this will be given over to nature conservation purposes on restoration.
Archaeology and cultural heritage
A desk based study including an assessment of archaeological potential and the potential impacts on the setting of cultural heritage assets has been undertaken as well as a geophysical survey to identify any features of potential archaeological interest. The geophysical survey found very little that can described as of archaeological interest. Trial trenching is currently being undertaken in the western extension area to verify if there any features of archaeological interest. The preliminary conclusion is that the proposed development will have neutral, negligible or no significant effects on cultural heritage and archaeology.
An assessment of potential impacts on geology, hydrology and hydrogeology has been carried out. A detailed site investigation has been carried out with the drilling of numerous site investigation and monitoring boreholes to establish the geology and hydrogeology of the western extension area. A swallow hole is present to the north west of the current landfill site and there is evidence of other features in the limestone geology called dolines. The area of the dolines has been investigated using geophysical surveys. The extent of the proposed landfill will be adjusted to make sure that the engineered base and sides of the containment landfill will be suitably stable and will provide suitable protection to the quality of the groundwater underlying the site. It is concluded that there will be no significant impact on groundwater quality or flow beneath the site or at receptors nearby as a consequence of the proposed void extension.
Surface water from areas around the site will be collected in and channelled away from and around the landfill areas in a series of ditches. During the operational period all water on site which is in contact with wastes and which has the potential to be contaminated is retained on site. Collected site surface water is used for dust suppression, in wheel washes and in the waste treatment plant in place of mains water.
Flood risk assessment
An assessment of the potential impacts on surface water flow and flood risk near to the site has been carried out. The site is in an area which is not at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. However, the design of the proposed surface water management scheme for the site will include provisions for climate change especially the predicted increase in frequency and intensity of rainfall storm events. It is considered that based on the implementation of an effective management plan the proposed development can be undertaken without increasing the risk of flooding at or in the vicinity of the site.
Transport and traffic
The traffic numbers associated with the current activities at the site are being reviewed to confirm whether there will be any significant changes in the estimated average numbers of HGVs using the site as a result of the proposed development. The assumed probable number of movements is unlikely to change significantly as a result of this application, but the final assessment will be based on the detailed design of the phasing of the mineral excavation works which is being carried out at the moment. It was concluded at the time of the current DCO application that there would be no adverse impact on highway safety or capacity as a result of the operation of the landfill and treatment facility. This conclusion remains valid provided that the number of vehicle movements do not change significantly.
An assessment of the noise impact of the proposed operations at the nearest sensitive receptors has been carried out. Due to the coronavirus pandemic it has not yet been possible to carry out representative background noise monitoring as activities in the vicinity have not yet returned to normal. In the meantime, it has been agreed with the Local Authority that background noise monitoring data obtained for the previous application can be used as an estimate of current background noise levels. The results of the preliminary assessment suggest that there will be no significant or unacceptable adverse impacts at noise-sensitive premises in the vicinity as a result of the proposed operations.
The potential impacts on local air quality which have the potential to affect human health have been assessed as well as potential impacts as a result of odour. The site is not located in an air quality management area which means that national air quality objectives are being met. Based on the control measures which will continue to be in place, the generation of fine airborne particulates as a result of the extraction and stockpiling of soils, clay and overburden and the proposed time extension and increase in throughput of the waste treatment and recovery facility will have negligible impact on air quality in the locality.
The wastes that are accepted at the site for landfill and treatment have a low level of organic carbon which means they have a limited potential for biodegradation and therefore limited potential for the generation of gases or vapours or to generate odour. With continued controls there will be no significant impacts on air quality associated with odour as a result of site activities.
The potential effects on amenity of dust, mud on the road and lighting have been assessed. Dust emissions will continue to be controlled effectively using a range of control measures. the effectiveness of which will be confirmed through regular monitoring at locations on the boundary of the site as specified in the Environmental Permit. Based on the wheel cleaning facilities and the proposed cleaning and maintenance regime on the site and the adjacent Stamford Road, the risk of nuisance from the proposed development associated with mud and debris on the local road network is low. The lighting at the site is situated at the main reception and office areas as well as the treatment facility for both security and health and safety considerations. Mobile lighting is used on the operational landfill area only when needed. With the exception of security lighting the lighting will only be used during periods of low light and darkness when the site is operational and all lighting will be directed downwards to minimise the impact. It is considered that there will not be an unacceptable impact on amenity as a result of the continued operation of the site.
An assessment of the socio-economic impacts of the proposed development has been carried out. The continued operations have a significant national and regional socio-economic benefit by supporting the need for the safe treatment of wastes, the safe disposal of hazardous wastes and disposal of LLW. It will result in a further significant positive contribution to the local economy and provide substantial support local villages and to the community through the two community funds. There is no evidence that there are any adverse socio-economic impacts but there is clear evidence of socio-economic benefits in the locality.
The cumulative impacts of all the aspects of the proposals have been taken into account in the assessments of impacts on people and the environment. Based on the assessments carried out to date the findings indicate that there will be no unacceptable adverse effects on human health or the environment in the short, medium or long term.