Does former landfill site pose environmental hazard?

The former landfill site off Spittles Lane in Lyme Regis, shown from above showing the significant land movement onto the beach below (photo: Google Earth)

A LYME Regis resident has called for the council to take action to ensure the former landfill site off Spittles Lane does not pose any danger to the public.

Land behind the Charmouth Road allotments was used as a tip until the 1970s, and local resident Racheal Pope has raised environmental concerns about the amount of rubbish still buried on the site and slipping down onto the beach below.

Ms Pope first raised her concerns in spring last year and, around the same time, Beaminster School student Eve Dawson approached the town clerk about carrying out a geography project about the site.

The town council recently considered Miss Dawson’s report, which said that almost half the contents of the tip had already moved due to landslides, but concluded that any hazards posed by the former landfill site were “low risk”.

Speaking at a council meeting just before the Christmas break, Ms Pope thanked Miss Dawson for her report, but asked the council to take further action.

She said: “Directly behind the allotments of Charmouth Road there is still, as we known, an awful lot of rubbish. This include a number of cars people in this room know about personally. All poised, waiting to slide down into the sea.

“I have been concerned about the amount of metal and other unpleasant things of the beach for quite a while. These include asbestos, plastics of course, and metal and chemical contaminants.

“When I talk to people about the tip they sometimes look quite puzzled. Either they don’t know the tip is there or they think the rubbish is Victorian, as though that makes it all okay! Of course, some of Victorian but an awful lot isn’t. Definite 20th century rubbish, as the tip didn’t close until the early 1970s.

“I raised the topic of the tip and requested an expert review because I wanted to start a conversation. We worry, quite rightly, about the plastic on the beach and do beach cleans, but we also need to be concerned about this tip which sits upon, as I was once told, the ‘most active landslip in Europe’.

“The tip needs to be acknowledged, assessed, monitored and appropriate actions taken.”

Ms Pope said she had read several articles and watched documentaries on the dangers posed by historic landfills, and suggested members of the council also looked into these.

She asked the council to consider how the impact of the tip could be minimised, how the health and welfare of Lyme Regis residents could be protected, and whether soil contaminants had been assessed on the neighbouring allotments.

In a report to councillors, town clerk John Wright said there were three outstanding issues regarding the former landfill site – land ownership, liability and toxicity.

It is currently unclear whether the site belongs to West Dorset District Council or Lyme Regis Town Council, but district councillor Daryl Turner reported it was the responsibility of West Dorset.

The district council employs a contractor to periodically remove debris from the beach, and the town council has now arranged for its operations supervisor to undertake monthly inspections and record and report any debris to the district council.

Councillor Turner added that he had recently asked the district council to review the site and remove materials on the beach.

The town clerk’s report said that the level of toxic waste, if any, that was dumped on the site was unknown but the last toxicity report carried out five years ago did not raise any material concerns.

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  1. I would be extremely surprised if this landfill does not present a significant environmental risk. It would be worth seeing the toxicity report, any site investigation reports. The leachate potential alone should be cause for concern.

  2. I have been to this site and as a mudlarker, I found it totally fascinating, I spent ages collecting wonderful items that give a glimpse into our recent history. Gone were the fossil hunters replaced by many other mudlarkers like myself.I should imagine that most if not all rubbish was removed by them. As a responsible mudlarker you remove plastic and dangerous items as well as your precious items. So do not spoil the fun let us continue, Our work is free.Dont lose the chance of discovering true recent history, this brings people to the town !!! Just put up warnings of danger and let us be. If we injure ourselves, if there are signs, well we were warned. Seriously what is the problem? Lyme Regis has its problem solved for free and hundreds of people had fun doing it. None. We cant Nanny everyone and we should not try.The most fun people had as children probably involved risk and danger ?!? whats the difference. Look at YouTube if you don’t realise what a fabulous thing this is to many. One or two peoples opinions should not rule what others wish to do.

    • Well said, I’ve just enjoyed a few minutes there on my debut today, found a few interesting items, I’ll be back tomorrow and over the next few weeks and years, fascinating, it really is.

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