Editor's pick: Asbestos tip agreed to be sustainable solution

In allowing an appeal permitting asbestos waste to be tipped at a landfill site on Teesside, an inspector has determined that the council had not substantiated its objection to the scheme based on a lack of need for the facility.

The 24ha site was used as an active landfill following clay extraction and backfilling with a variety of materials sourced from municipal, commercial, industrial and special materials, including asbestos. The planning permission allowed for a raised landform to a maximum post-settlement height of 18 metres and the appellants wished to increase this by a further eight metres.

In some parts of the site, landraising had already surpassed the permitted height due to unauthorised overtipping of excavated waste. The appellants stated that no extension to the period of landfilling was proposed but sought consent to tip around 260,00m3 of additional waste, mainly asbestos. This would be sourced from a nearby marine decommissioning facility for ships and oil rigs brought from around the world, including from the North Sea oilfields.

The inspector agreed with the appellants that the site's sensitivity to change was low, given its proximity to a nuclear power station, an offshore wind farm and other industrial uses. Since asbestos waste is not recyclable or reusable and cannot be recovered due to its toxic nature, she agreed that tipping it in a controlled landfill site was sustainable. She was satisfied that the appellants had demonstrated that a market existed for the proposed asbestos waste cells and the site could also meet a need for more construction and demolition waste disposal capacity.

In allowing the appeal, the inspector noted that the application had been recommended for approval by officers. She accepted that the council had provided adequate evidence to support its objection on landscape grounds. However, on the need for the development, she accepted the appellants' claim that the council’s objection was misguided and unsupported by policy or the available evidence. This justified a partial award of costs to the appellants, she held.

Inspector: Elizabeth Ord; Hearing

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