Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has raised the issue of smells from the Avondale and West Carron landfill sites direct with the Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson at Parliamentary Question Time.

The transcript of the exchange between Angus MacDonald and the Environment Minister is as follows:

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Enforcement Powers)

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (SNP)

7. To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to ensure that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency uses the enforcement powers that it has. (S4O-00685)

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): As part of its strategic oversight of SEPA, the Scottish Government works closely with the agency to ensure that agreed objectives are met and that it implements sound policies and procedures, including effective enforcement arrangements, that protect Scotland’s environment. SEPA’s strong framework for ensuring appropriate use of its enforcement powers includes an enforcement policy that defines how and when enforcement mechanisms will be applied, and detailed guidance for front-line regulatory teams to enable them to carry out their duties proportionately and consistently.

Angus MacDonald: The minister will be aware that, two weeks ago, the cabinet secretary visited the Avondale landfill site in my constituency. The site has enjoyed significant investment in its new waste transfer facility, but the minister might not be aware of significant disquiet in the nearby Polmont community about the smell that regularly emanates from the site. At the other end of my constituency, the west Carron landfill site, which is run by another operator, has also caused anger in the local community. How will the minister ensure that SEPA uses the powers that it has been given to ensure that local residents are not further inconvenienced by these landfill sites?

Stewart Stevenson: It is up to SEPA to decide when and how it uses its enforcement powers in line with statutory functions. I am aware that it is working on the significant concerns in Avondale and west Carron and engaging with interested parties to ensure that everyone is kept aware of progress.

SEPA is working with the operators of both sites and improvements are being made to Avondale’s gas management systems to address odour concerns. However, the agency has indicated that if satisfactory progress is not made in that respect, more formal action will be taken.

Speaking after Question Time Angus MacDonald said:

“Given the concerns that have been expressed to me by residents living near to both the Avondale and West Carron landfill sites I felt it was important to highlight these concerns to the Minister on the floor of the Parliament chamber. Local residents rightly feel the authorities have been reticent with regard to taking enforcement action.

“Having attended meetings with concerned residents it is clear to me that the authorities, including SEPA and Falkirk Council, are failing to get to grips with the operators, and I welcome the Minister’s get tough threat if the operators continue to fail to comply with their operating licences.

“Hopefully, now that the matter has been brought to the attention of the Environment Minister we will see action from the regulatory authorities and an improvement in the quality of life for local residents who have put up with the unacceptable conditions for far too long.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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