Dear Sir,

It has emerged that a waste site which has been on fire for weeks was the subject of numerous complaints from residents in the area prior to the blaze.

The former Eldon Brickworks site, just a few miles from Newton Aycliffe has been on fire since Monday, 31st August and is set to continue burning for some time.

The fire has prompted Lib Dem councillors to call for a full investigation into what has happened at the site and a full review of waste sites across County Durham. They believe more needs to be done to ensure potential fires are avoided in the future.

Cllr. Mark Wilkes, Lib Dem shadow portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and climate change on Durham County Council, said: “It is very clear that the Council and others have been aware of problems with this site for some time, and we have discovered that some conditions of the original planning application were not implemented. Given the public health impact of what has happened, we believe there must be a full review of all waste sites across County Durham to make sure that they are safe for the environment, for local residents, and for those working at them.”

Great Aycliffe Town Councillor, Michael Stead, who visited the site this week comments: “I am getting regular complaints from residents about the smell from the burning of this toxic waste. Some residents with existing health issues are really struggling. We need to know how much longer this is going to last.”

The waste at the site is being control-burned for safety reasons and fumes can be smelt across whole swathes of County Durham. A multi agency team is working with site owners to address the problem.

I appears that as much as 4000 tonnes of waste was stored at the site. The site was only licensed for specific types of waste but general household waste was being stored at the site.

Labour-run Durham County Council has been aware of problems at the site for some time.

Lib Dem Cllr. Stead says, “With such serious public health issues, some serious questions need answering. We have asked for a specific investigation in to what has happened at this site. I’m really concerned about people’s health.

Cllr. Stead has had residents contact him including one resident in Woodham who says their relative is really concerned due to having a lung condition.

Lib Dem councillors are also questioning if national agencies have the resources they need and believe residents should be getting proper updates on the fire.

Official Opposition Leader on Durham County Council, Amanda Hopgood, (Lib Dem) comments, “We need to be certain that the Environment Agency has the resources it needs to monitor these sites, and we have written to them asking various questions.

“However it is also clear that residents across the south of the County feel there has been a lack of adequate communication by our Labour-run council and their partners.”

Lib Dem councillors have contacted various County Council Departments, the Environment Agency, Public Health and County Durham & Darlington Fire and Rescue Service over the issue.