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When is a ‘dump’ not a ‘dump: when it is a site for new housing

  • by JW

“How safe are these places, and should people be concerned about living on top of them?”


There are several uses for our town dumps – as a repository of valuable buried treasures:

When is a ‘dump’ not a ‘dump’? 1: When it is a ‘mine’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth

As a place to help yourself to unwanted items which can be put to good use:

When is a ‘dump’ not a ‘dump’: when it is a ‘reuse centre’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And as a ‘brownfield site’:

Developers choose old landfills for a variety of projects, including solar farms, residential neighborhoods, and commercial buildings

Landfills Can Make Great Building Sites – GreenBuildingAdvisor

There are questions, though:

With the need for more housing, developers are moving in to build on top of former landfill sites. But how safe are these places, and should people be concerned about living on top of them?

The UK dumps nearly 50 million tonnes of industrial, commercial and domestic waste into landfill sites every year – enough rubbish to fill Wembley Stadium to the brim more than 50 times over. The process is tightly regulated. Meticulous records are kept of what we dump and where we dump it.

But landfill hasn’t always been this well managed – and Britain’s appetite in years gone by for filling huge holes in the ground with waste is beginning to haunt us. There are 20,000 former landfill sites across the UK – 1,200 of them are on England’s coastline. File on 4 has had exclusive access to an unpublished report commissioned by the Environment Agency, looking at these sites and the impact of flooding and coastal erosion.

Is it safe to live on a former landfill site? – BBC News

A couple of years ago, Devon Live looked at ‘industrial waste dumps’ in particular – and there are some in the Sid Valley:

Map reveals hundreds of hidden industrial waste dumps right beneath our feet in Devon – Devon Live

And only last month, the Environment Agency updated its information on ‘historic landfill sites’ in the UK – which is in fact the same as the list above:

Historic Landfill Sites –

However, it does not seem to cover more informal ‘town dumps’.

At a VGS meeting on housing back in 2009, concerns were raised about areas of land which were potential sites for new housing:

According to a member of the public who attended the meeting, and was a former engineer for the then Urban Council, this site used to be landfill more than 30 years ago. When the landfill was closed, a sewer was laid from Green Lane to near Bradfords yard. The Vision Group raised concerns about the risks of subsidence and escape of poisonous gases at the site. It also questioned the development of land now protected under AONB status; how long the authorities are obliged to wait for such infill ground to settle; and if they are monitoring potential toxic run-off.

Futures Forum: Persimmon, Sidmouth and “promoting well-designed housing that is sustainable and provides much-needed new housing…”