Saturday, September 30, 2006

Street stall in Wrexham

Protesters fighting against landfill at Hafod Quarry took their campaign into Wrexham town centre today with a stall in Hope Street. Johnstown residents and members of Hafod Environmental Group including Councillors Dave Bithell and Mark Pritchard were joined by Assembly Member Janet Ryder and a number of other supporters.

janet at the stall 2

Over 600 people stopped at the stall to sign the campaign's petition to the Welsh Assembly and many promised to write individual letters to the Welsh Assembly too.

Apart from a couple of people who said they worked at the landfill site, there was virtually universal condemnation of the council's decision to allow the 1995 planning permission for landfill to stand with modification. "Shocking", "disgraceful", "spineless" and "corrupt" were some of the words used to describe the decision.

Many people were extremely angry that Mersey's waste is being dumped here in Wrexham, blaming Merseyside councils and the directors of Mersey Waste Holdings, along with Wrexham council, for the decision to dump. Several people commented that the needs of councils and big business would always be put before the well-being of ordinary people... which is probably true unless we take matters into our own hands to stop this happening.

bin the bin

There were many comments about the need to provide better recycling services (Liverpool and Wirral are amongst the five worst authorities for recycling in the country, with the other Mersey authorities and Wrexham not far behind). One suggestion for waste minimisation and improving recycling is that shoppers could return all unnecessary packaging (stuff which can't be recycled by Michael - like margarine tubs, yoghurt pots, plastic bags) from whence it came, placing pressure on shops and supermarkets to sell goods with less packaging or recyclable packaging and to provide recycling facilities on their premises for anything which can't be recycled by the local scheme.

stall 2

There was also anger at comments made by various politicians (including Martyn Jones MP and leader of the council Aled Roberts) in the last few days about the possible cost to Wrexham council tax payers of any compensation claim by Mersey Waste Holdings if their licence was revoked. The Welsh Assembly (Carwyn Jones) has also said that Wrexham council would have to bear the cost of any compensation. Many people felt that this was a cyncial attempt to quash protest about the quarry. If this was the aim of such comments, then it has failed miserably and has probably been counter-productive. We heard many exclamations along the lines of "How dare they try to threaten us with higher council tax bills!" and "The council might put finances before people's health, but we don't! This just shows how corrupt they are." A number of people were aware of MWH's promise not to start landfill until all the planning matters had been resolved, so felt they weren't entitled to compensation anyway.

Lastly, there were many references to future elections and the likely fate of politicians who had supported the decision to landfill at Hafod. As one man said to me: "We have long memories. We haven't forgotten Tryweryn and we're not going to forget the people who let us down over Hafod."

More Hafod photos can be seen here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Action for Hafod

Tomorrow morning (Saturday 30th Sep) campaigners for Hafod will have a stall by Marks & Spencer's in Wrexham town centre from 10am. They are looking for volunteers to help them for a couple of hours where they will be gathering signatures for the petition. If it is raining and the group are not by M&S, then you'll find them under the archway opposite the Horse & Jockey.

The Action Sub-Committee meets on Monday (Oct 2nd) at 8pm in Johnstown Scout Hut. If you are not on this committee, please still feel free to come along; it's not too late to join!

Can everyone write personal letters to Carwyn Jones -f illing in a coupon with the Evening Leader is great, but the letters are important and we MUST write those! His details again:

Carwyn Jones AM
Minister for Environment, Planning & Countryside
National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1NA

Let's get cynical...

Call me a cynic, but why has it taken three weeks for Welsh Assembly Government minister Carwyn Jones to announce he's going to make an announcement in a month's time about Hafod?

Call me a cynic, but why did it take the same amount of time to discover that the Assembly government can apparently go for a "Discontinuation Order" rather than a revocation. No good saying that Murky Waste has started dumping - it has started dumping before the council planning permission!

Call me a cynic, but all this talk of compensation is just that - talk. Murky Waste would never be allowed to dump its waste if it applied for planning permission today. It's likely that EU regulations will stop it dumping in the near future and that's before we turn our attention to the Murkeyside councils that have so badly let their own people down, not to mention the people of this area, over recycling and landfill. £10 million - you're 'avin a laff!

Call me a cynic, but is all this politicking just a chance to waste more time and let people down gently, in the hope that they forget the guilty parties before the next Assembly elections?

Don't worry, cynics have long memories!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Assembly statement on Hafod

Carwyn Jones, the Assembly minister for the environment, planning and countryside, has just issued this announcement about Hafod:

The Assembly Government has been asked to quash the planning consent for landfill at Hafod Quarry in Wrexham.

Planning permission to allow the use of Hafod Quarry for landfill was given in 1995 by the then Secretary of State for Wales as a result of an appeal.

Many locals are opposed to the development and they asked the local planning authority to use powers available to it to quash the planning consent and thus stop the use of the quarry for landfill.

On 4 September the local authority decided against revoking or discontinuing the permission. They decided instead to make a Modification Order to ensure that the landfill does not effect the nearby Special Area of Conservation.

The National Assembly has powers to rescind planning consents. In order to stop landfill operations a Discontinuance Order would be necessary. I will consider the case for making such an order and will announce a decision next month. The Assembly Government's policy is to consider such action only where the original decision is judged to be grossly wrong, so that damage would be done to the wider public interest. If the Assembly intervened, compensation might be payable and this would be met by the local authority.

One of the issues of concern to local residents is the fact that the quarry is taking waste from across the border. In the last year for which we have data, Welsh local authorities exported nearly 36,966 tonnes of municipal waste to landfill sites in England. In the same year 9,340 tonnes of municipal waste was imported from England. The cross border movement of waste will not be a consideration in the decision before the Assembly Government.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Coach to Cardiff

Have you written to Carwyn Jones yet? See the next entry for more details...

Here's his email address too:

If you feel strongly about the Hafod Quarry landfill issue, then it's important to write to Carwyn Jones to let him know how you feel. Every letter is important. If you have pictures of the site or the protest, you might like to send some of these too.

don't dump on our doorstep

You can also come to Cardiff with us to lobby Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Assembly. The date isn't set yet, but if you contact:, they'll be able to send you the details once it's organised. It won't all be work - there may be time to have a wander round Cardiff too!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Write to the Welsh Assembly now if you oppose landfill at Hafod

Your letters are needed NOW. Please write and tell the Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside, Carwyn Jones, what you think about the landfill site at Hafod. Tell him why you want him to overturn the decision of Wrexham County Borough Council to allow dumping to go ahead at the site. Please write the letter in your own words. Something short and powerful will be fine. Even if you don't live in the area, your letter to the Welsh Assembly Government will count. Please support us.

no landfill

  • If the site affects you directly, you could say how and why.
  • If you have concerns about safety, pollution, health effects from the site, tell the Minister what these are.
  • If you are opposed to landfill, say why.
  • Ask the Minister to rescind the planning permission for the site.
Facts and figures, some of which you may like to include in a letter:
  • The 1995 planning permission is obsolete and should not have been allowed to stand.
  • The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation mean that the 1995 planning permission is no longer valid.
  • New guidelines under the National Waste Strategy for Wales are incompatible with the 1995 permission. Local residents have a landfill on their doorstep which does not meet current landfill guidelines.
  • The site is too close to local houses (150m).
  • The site is within the Dee Protection Zone, with a risk of pollution to local watercourses.
  • Sites should be close to the source of waste, not be importing waste from 30-50 miles away (although no landfill should take place at Hafod, wherever it comes from).
  • Merseyside is failing miserably to meet recycling and re-use targets for its waste, a large proportion of which is still landfilled.
  • Wagons pulling on and off the Bangor Road is causing a traffic hazard.
  • The smell from the site is already dreadful.
  • There are health risks associated with landfill, as cocktails of substances react with unpredictable results.
  • There are already two other landfill sites very close by which have caused misery to local residents for years. These too promised that there would be no pollution, nuisance or ill-effects on local people, but the reality was very different.
Send your letters to:

Carwyn Jones, AM
Minister for the Environment, Planning and Countryside
Labour Assembly Government
National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff CF99 1NA

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nottingham Victory against Incinerator Expansion

An inspiring report from Nottingham about their campaign against landfill and incinerator. Read all about it here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pressure for Assembly action

North Wales Plaid AM Janet Ryder has today put down a Statement of Opinion (the Assembly equivalent of a Westminster Early Day Motion) calling for Carwyn Jones, the relevant minister, to revoke the planning permission at Hafod. He has to have the final say because of the history of the tip.

Tomorrow the National Assembly will be debating water and Janet Ryder says she intends to raise the issue of the Hafod during that debate.

Lobby your AMs to support this Statement of Opinion now - if you live in Clwyd South it's or in Wrexham it's

If you live elsewhere, go to to find out your Assembly Member.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hafod Group Open Meeting on Thursday (21st)

An open meeting of the Hafod group takes place at 7.30pm this Thursday. It's at the Johnstown scout hut on the Moreton estate. Please come with your suggestions for taking the campaign further.

The gate picket continues... a good turnout this morning of about twenty people on the gate. There were seven lorries between 7-9am.

The police informed us that they are removing their permanent presence and reducing surveillance to a patrol.

Why Wrexham still landfills 90% of its waste

guildhall protest 04

It is clear from Wrexham's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) 1996 - 2011, which was only adopted by the council on 14th February 2005, that the council doesn't understand any of the ethical or environmental issues around landfill. We don't want landfill because it's smelly, noisy, polluting, dangerous, wasteful, makes people's lives a misery etc. Wrexham council is only looking at alternatives to landfill because there aren't enough big holes to chuck our rubbish in, because landfill tax is costly and because the council has to meet European Directives and the National Strategy. See for yourself in this extract from the UDP:

11.13 Waste Management in Wrexham has traditionally focused on landfilling. However, sites suitable for landfilling are becoming scarcer and the costs imposed by the landfill tax are likely to make this form of waste management less attractive in any event. A more sustainable approach towards waste management is also required in order to conform with the relevant European Directives and with the National Waste Strategy for Wales. Accordingly there is now a need to take a more comprehensive view of waste management.

But Hafod Quarry is one huge hole. It has an estimated capacity of 5.5 million cubic metres, considerably larger than all other remaining landfill capacity in North Wales put together. Given the above, it is fair to assume that Wrexham council's reasoning for letting dumping go ahead at the quarry goes like this:
  • it's a great big hole with plenty of room
  • someone else (whoever's dumping there) has to pay the landfill tax
  • compliance with the European Directives is Merseyside's problem
  • It's English waste, so doesn't affect the National Waste Strategy targets for Wales
In theory (although very probably not in practice), council officers only do what the councillors tell them to do, and the councillors are elected by us and answerable to us. We need to make sure all our councillors are in no doubt that:
  • landfill at Hafod is unacceptable to the people of Wrexham
  • landfill at Hafod will cause misery for local people with noise, smell, traffic etc.
  • landfill at Hafod Quarry will pollute the local environment
  • Merseyside should sort out its recycling and re-use schemes (as should Wrexham) so it doesn't need to export its unsorted waste to other places
The Recycle with Michael scheme has made some improvements to the situation in Wrexham, but it is still far too little. The Merseyside schemes are generally just as poor. What is needed is a comprehensive policy to work towards zero waste. Other councils are doing this, but what it needs is political will.

Every single letter in this week's Wrexham weekly Leader was about and opposed to landfill at Hafod. Keep up the pressure.

You can contact your councillor and other elected representatives by clicking here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Murky Waste goes on the offensive (and it is very offensive!)

The last two editions of the Evening Leader suggests that the editor's made a conscious decision to back Murky Waste's view of events. On Wednesday we had the headline news that councillors who voted against revocation had been called late at night. It's unclear how this is connected to the Hafod, as councillors make unpopular decisions all the time. But it was presented by the Leader as a menace by a minority of campaigners.
Last night's Leader (Thursday) had an even more ridiculous scare story. It claimed - on the basis of a single very biased source - that a white van had attempted to force a Murky Waste lorry off the by-pass. This was accepted as part of a harassment campaign by protesters and, more specifically, sought to divide campaigners between the "acceptable" majority and the "militant" minority. I'm sure we've all been cut up by white vans in our time and would have appreciated being in a 30-tonne truck - how many white vans would take them on?
Murky Waste is a big business and operates accordingly. Big business when it's in trouble turns to crisis management PR firms and these stories have all the hallmarks of a Public Relations firm planting stories in a gullible (or unthinking) media.
Our united campaign to stop the immoral dumping at the Hafod will go on regardless of these scare stories.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Murky facts and figures for you

According to Councillor John Fletcher, (St Helens) chair of Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority until June 2006, in his introduction to the Joint Municipal Waste Strategy for Merseyside, the area produces 800,000 tonnes of waste every year, of which 700,000 tonnes goes to landfill.

Elsewhere, the report notes that "Recycling and composting targets have been set out in the Government’s ‘Waste Strategy 2000." This stipulates that Authority’s should recycle or compost 25% of household waste by 2005 and 30% by 2010." One of the objectives of the strategy is "To landfill waste only where actions higher up the waste hierarchy [things like waste reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery] are not possible." They're not doing very well on that target, are they?

The 2005 figures show 22% recycling and 78% to landfill in 2005, with no re-use and no residual waste recovery. So have things improved in the last year? I've had a quick look on the internet at the various Merseyside council recycling schemes. Knowsley, "Improving people's lives" (although possibly not the lives of its residents), does no kerbside recycling collections at all, and the only reference to plastics at "recycling centres" is Tesco's plastic bag recycling. Sefton appears to collect no plastics, even at recycling centres. St Helens - "Think Smart, Take Part" - collects no plastics at the kerbside, and it appears that its plastic recycling is only for customers of Asda and Tescos. Wirral collects paper and garden waste at the kerbside, but there's no mention of the website of how you can go about recycling anything else. Liverpool City Council collects no plastics at the kerbside or at its bring-banks, but has just rolled out a new "green bin" scheme.

None of the above will go very far to reaching the strategy targets. But then, why should they bother when they have the whole of Hafod Quarry to fill up with their rubbish?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Plaid Cymru's Euro-MP Jill Evans got a rousing reception from 150 local protesters when she visited Hafod quarry today. She explained that, under European law, a landfill site can be declared illegal if it interferes with people's lives.
The campaign goes on with a number of different avenues being explored.

Check out a new website condemning Wrexham councillors here

Murkyside facing £30m fine for landfill

New EU restrictions on landfill dumping mean that the five councils in Murkyside face fines of up to £30 million if they fail to reduce their landfill by 2010, according to the National Audit Office.

The regulations will get progressively tighter until, by 2020, the expectation will be that only a third of current landfill is sent to be dumped.

This places Mersey Waste in an interesting position. In 2003-4 it landfilled 512,000 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste. This is meant to reduce to 310,848t by 2010 - by neat coincidence that's about the annual capacity of the licence granted for Hafod.

But by 2013, the allowance will be down to 207,047t, so there will be room for a hundred thousand tonnes of other people's rubbish at the Hafod. Mersey Waste could end up profiting from other people's misery, ill health and pollution.

Full National Audit Office report on landfill here

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Half Mersey's waste goes to Hafod

Hafod Quarry, near Johnstown, Wrexham, is licensed to be the dumping ground for almost half of the annual household landfill waste generated by the five Merseyside local authorities.

The authorities' contractor, Mersey Waste Holdings (MWH), is licensed to dump a staggering 300,000 tonnes of waste each year in Hafod Quarry.

The total amount of Merseyside waste generated last year stood at 770,124 tonnes.

Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority had been "named and shamed" by the National Audit Office for having failed to make plans to send waste to treatment plants or incinerators instead.

This will mean Merseyside faces the toughest fines in the country, up to £30m, under government plans to end Britain's shameful landfill re-cord.

(taken from Daily Post 16/8/06)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Knowsley council's slogan is "green, clean and proud of it"...

Taken from
The idiots of Knowsley council had a slogan a while back that stated ‘Green, Clean and proud of it”. One might struggle to see just how this noble statement actually develops in the real world. In fact, breath in the air of Kirkby, near the infamous polluting dump of Sonae (a factory which makes chipboard) and you might well choke on that particular slogan.

The Wrexham landfill site of Hafod Quarry, Johnstown is now the host to rubbish disposed by Knowsley council. The site is or was protected, and is a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) and plays host to great crested newts as well as being a place of beauty for local people. Homes are situated nearby. Local residents have been campaigning for years against the plans, but Wrexham council, like Knowsley council is prepared to ignore local people and give a warm welcome to polluting businesses.
The landfill protests are continuing, and if the people of Wales just sit back and let the English throw their rubbish in their land, things must be bad.
In reality, Knowsley council have wasted hundreds of millions of pounds which might have been put into a more comprehensive rubbish disposal system. Burying in landfills is cheap – that’s why Knowsley council have voted to continue along this road to environmental vandalism. Make no mistake; this is Knowsley council crapping on the people of Wales, treating them like second class citizens. The same council that has giant banners draped over the civic suite in Kirkby is now throwing the filth from Kirkby into another country. The same council that has handed out 2 separate bins and a plastic container to residents here now seems to have more rubbish than it can dispose of and dumps it in Wales.
It is tempting to suggest that we open up a landfill site for hypocritical councillors. Bury the polluters and stop the pollution maybe. Too be serious though, many councillors in Knowsley are making decisions but will dodge the consequences of them because they are not spring chickens. Regardless of whether any of us are here or not in 2050, the golden rule of any generation ought to be to make sure we leave the planet nice and clean for future generations.
New Labour, having wasted hundreds of billions on war and madcap schemes, are a party funded by sly corrupt devious rich people, who will have their hand in the rubbish disposal industry and will manipulate the law to make sure that working class people are forced to endure polluting industries from Sonae in Kirkby to this landfill site in Johnstown, Wrexham. The mafia ran/runs the lucrative rubbish disposal industry in the USA. All over the UK, the little people are bullied and harried by the combination of corrupt councils and devious businesses and we see our communities ‘developing’ with less green land and more pollution.
The Liverpool Times cannot stress the importance of environmental issues enough. Never mind the media myth about environmental campaigners being nutters, odds are a lot will be very well educated, more so that than the ranks of uneducated councillors who voted for this decision.

What's being dumped on our doorstep?

Serious allegations about other landfill sites in the Wrexham area being used illegally being made on football forum. We reproduce it here to widen the debate.

Who checks what Mersey waste drivers are dumping @ Hafod?
Why should the Children of Johnstown, Rhos, Ruabon, Bangon on Dee, Rhostyllen etc, etc be put in danger depending on which way the wind is blowing?

There is a local chap to Johnstown who a few years ago in Cheshire, openly admitted making over £150,000 in six weeks by turning a blind eye as to what was being dumped at a site he worked, the money was coming from a few drivers who were picking up "toxic and other dirty waste" from dodgy sources in the Mersey/ Manchester area. It seems it's common practice. He was one of a few who turned a blind eye to there own friendly wagon drivers. Although this came on top for the local man he never faced charges nor did the drivers or owners of the site, it was all hushed up to stop any investigation. He moved from site to site and made himself a fortune without a care for what he was doing to the environment or people's lives. Sites are full of men like this and some drivers seem to retire early with massive houses and fantastic lifestyles.

What’s to stop this happening @ Hafod?
There needs to be independent checks of each truck

The planning only voted in favour of it because a chief planning officer leaked a report to members saying it would cost Wrexham Council between £5 and £10m in compensation if it was revoked (what price is our children's lives?), the older planning officers shit their pants, there was to a planning officer Edwards (mike?) who went in hard to vote in favor of Mersey waste, bet he don't live near Hafod and what's in it for him?


Councilor Dave Bithel did his very best for to save us from disaster waiting to happen, I knew he was a good bloke once he saw the light (and stuck to it) & fcuked Marek and Co off.
Well done Dave a Good honest Councilor and a Wrexham Fan.

No lorries, one arrest, two protesters and three police cars: Saturday morning at Hafod Quarry

Two protesters blockaded the gates of Hafod Quarry this morning, 9th September, arriving at around 9.30am and tying a large LANDFILL STINKS! banner to the fence. Apparently, no dumping is taking place today; instead work is being done on the site ready for more tipping next week. Here is the protesters’ account:

As we arrived, two vehicles left the site, one pulled up to the stop sign at the road edge before turning, while the white van sailed out on the wrong side of the road with scant regard for road safety. If anything had been coming into the site, there could easily have been a head-on collision. Road safety at the site is a major conceern, as lorries hurtle in and out. Site approach road pictured below, showing van leaving on wrong side of road.

We tied our banner to the fence and the security guard came over to chat to us and to agree that landfill is unpleasant, although he felt that everyone working there was “just doing it to feed themselves and their families, and you wouldn’t want to see them starve, would you?” We pointed out that, while we understood that jobs are important to people, all the people who work at the landfill site and help Mersey Waste in any way are contributing to the poisoning of the local community. Same as people who work in bomb factories. We talked about some of the health risks and he seemed genuinely concerned about his own health and keen to go away and find out more.

Then one of the vehicles arrived back at the site. The two of us stood between the vehicle and the gate, with our “RECYCLE WASTE OR BURN IN HELL” placard. The security guard was quite upset. “He’s only gone out to get his butties. He’s just the electrician.”

“Even just the electrician is helping this site operate.”

The electrician got on his phone to the police...

Another car drew up at the gates to drive out of the site. The driver got out of his car to walk past our blockade and talk to the other driver. He left his keys in the ignition and the engine running.

“Please will you turn off your engine.” He replied with an obscenity. “Oh well, I’ll go and do it for him then.” One of us started to walk towards his car, which prompted a somewhat disproportionate response in our view.

“Stay away from my f***ing car or I’ll kill you. I mean it!”

“OK, just turn the engine off. You shouldn’t leave it running when you’re not in it. It’s dangerous and illegal.”

“What you’re doing is illegal. This is private property. F*** off.”

He raced past us and turned off the engine and removed the keys.

“Thank you. That’s all we were asking. There’s an oil crisis, you know.” We went back to standing in front of the other car. The eff off driver asked the security guard to open the other gate, which he did, leaving us rather a wide area to cover with two people, and we didn’t trust this guy not to mow us down so we let him past. The security guard shut the other side of the gate again and the electrician stayed in his car behind our blockade, obviously looking forward to the police arriving and sorting us out.

After another ten minutes or so, the police had still not arrived and we wanted to have a wander round the perimeter of the site, so we packed up our banner and placard, waved the electrician into the site in a friendly manner, and set off on foot along the road. As we did so the police arrived. They spoke with the guys at the gate, then came after us up the road. The policeman (pictured rather hazily below) seemed to have forgotten his helmet.

“Please stay on the pavement. Can we talk to you for a minute?”

“We weren’t planning to leave the pavement.”

The first police officer was trying to be very nice and reasonable. He explained that there had been a complaint made of attempted theft of keys from a car at the quarry and that one of us was the alleged perpetrator. We explained what had happened. The police said that the driver could do what he liked on private property. I said I still felt it was dangerous and damaging to the environment, but in any event I had no intention of stealing this man's keys or his car or anything else – I was only concerned to switch off the engine, and as soon as he'd started to come over to do it himself, I'd stopped. The police officer said that alleged victim of the alleged attempted theft wasn’t actually at the site at that moment – his mates were trying to contact him – and in the meantime the police officer just needed a few details from us.

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“No, that won't be necessary," then, after some more discussion. "I'll let you carry on then, but I'll just take your name and details.”

“Well, as you know, I don’t have to give those unless you arrest me.”

“I don’t want to arrest you. It’s not necessary. Just give me your details and then you can go.”

He went off a little way to consult on his cancer-inducing Tetra police radio. The WPC with him, who was much more aggressive, continued the conversation with comments like:
“If you won’t give your details, we’ll just have you locked up.” I pointed out that the first police officer had just told me that he wasn't going to arrest me. "That was if you give him your details."

"That's not what he said. Now he's going to arrest me because I won't give my details, but a second ago he said he didn't need to arrest me."

She went ballistic when one of us decided to take some photos of the scene while we were waiting for the first officer to get advice from above. I get really fed up with police cameras filming gratuitously at demos, so although I felt sympathetic towards her argument that I was infringing her human rights by taking her picture, I didn’t feel inclined to delete it from the camera. The police must have miles of footage of us doing harmless things like walking along roads and holding banners. She continued to shout at us until her colleague returned and announced that I would after all be arrested for alleged attempted theft. There was a scurrilous suggestion that we were intent on "becoming martyrs" for the quarry cause. We chuckled. If we'd wanted to martyr ourselves, we certainly wouldn't have done it by trying to turn off a car engine. Anyway, it was a sunny day. We wanted to be out in the hills by lunchtime.

Just at the moment of the arrest, a member of the Hafod Environmental Group happened to pass by in her car. She stopped. The police cars were already blocking one lane of this narrow road. Now both directions were blocked. We tried to explain what was happening while the WPC continued to shout, this time about the road being blocked. The car was moved on, I was cautioned and we blocked the road some more while we discussed what I could hand over before being thrown in the cells. I passed over my bag but still had the camera round my neck, so once I'd been shoved into the car the police woman came over and screamed some more about her picture. "She hasn't deleted it! It's still on her camera phone."

"I don't have a mobile phone; it's a camera." She was by this time getting dangerously angry. It isn’t my camera and I was worried about it being trashed, so I eventually offered to delete the offending picture, a silhouette of the WPC and my mate chatting. This took a while with the car door open and the road still blocked, while I carefully explained each stage of the deletion process and checked that the WPC could see that the picture was indeed being deleted.

I was then driven back to the site gates where a third police car had now arrived and where the victim of the alleged crime had turned up shaking his head. He didn’t want to make a complaint after all, so after some hanging around and discussion, and after I gave my name and address as required once arrested, I was de-arrested and allowed to go.

If things carry on like this, they’re going to need to bring in police reinforcements from other forces on double time to keep the quarry open. Three police vehicles called to the scene to deal with two protesters is a lot of resources.

So, p
lease take your protests down there whenever you can, even if it’s only two or three people for a short time. You don't need to get yourselves arrested! Whatever you can contribute will all add up to help stop this illegal dumping.

Some photos from Hafod Quarry and Wrexham Guildhall:

Lawrence Isted is Wrexham's Chief Planning Officer. While councillors spoke for a minute or two each at the planning meeting, Mr Isted took it upon himself to answer every comment at length, usually with an exhortation for councillors not to revoke the planning permission. We have to ask ourselves - what's in it for him? And we bet he doesn't have a landfill site on his doorstep.

Two protesters with placards; the site is behind them with diggers in view.

Protesters at an early morning protest at the site.

Landfill is not a good option for anyone, including the people of Merseyside. Much of the waste being dumped at Hafod could be locally recycled and reused and raise revenue for Merseyside, instead of which Merseysiders are paying through the nose, or at least through their council taxes, to transport and dump their waste at a site which will be a toxic health hazard for years.


For anyone who wants to know what a Mersey Waste Transport wagon looks like, here is a picture of one.

Remember Tryweryn, the valley near Bala which was flooded to provide a supply of drinking water to the people of Merseyside. Liverpool has apologised for this, albeit 40 years late. Johnstown people don't want an apology for the landfill in 40 years time. They want it to stop now.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More councils may dump in Johnstown

Liverpool councils aren't content with dumping their own waste in the Hafod - we can reveal that Mersey Waste is now asking Flintshire and Halton councils (amongst others) to send their rubbish to Johnstown.

Wrexham councillors were warned that allowing Liverpool to dump in Johnstown would open the floodgates - it didn't take long for that to happen.

Protest against the dumping - we are protesting at any time between 7am-6pm Monday to Friday and 7am-1pm on Saturdays.

Murkyside's recycling shame

The five councils - Sefton, St Helens, Liverpool, Knowsley and Wirral - that make up Murkyside have been rewarded for their poor recycling record.

The councils control Mersey Waste Disposal Authority, whose company Mersey Waste is dumping waste in Hafod quarry, Johnstown.

The councils are "massively under-achieving on meeting their recycling targets" according to the government. As a result, the government's DEFRA department has rewarded them with an extra £6 million to get their house in order (see Daily Post 8/9/06).

A bit of background about Hafod Quarry

Please feel free to add more background about the quarry issue. Anyone can post under "comments" and we can then edit this text to fill in more background, add detail etc.

The campaign against landfill in the Ruabon and Johnstown areas of Wrexham has a long and complex history going back nearly 20 years. It is a story of expensive legal battles funded from the pockets of local people, of broken promises, and of the health and welfare of local people sacrificed to business interests. Local councils, the Welsh Office, the Welsh Assembly Government, Europe, and bodies like the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales have time and again failed to intervene to protect the people they are supposed to serve.

The recent history of the Hafod Quarry site is not straightforward. The site has had several waste management owners over the years, each of whom sold on the site to another waste management company. Most recently, in February 2005, SITA UK which operates nationwide sold the site to Mersey Waste Holdings (MWH), an arms-length company owned by the five Merseyside local authorities of Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helen’s and Wirral, after no less than four years of negotiations. A sizeable section of the site had already been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), now also designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by Europe on account of its colony of great crested newts. The presence of the newts and protected status of part of the site made it impossible to landfill at the site in accordance with the 1995 planning permission, but successive owners of the site (most recently MWH, who were well aware of the possible limitations on use of the site when they bought it) have jealously clung onto this outdated permission, knowing that under the more stringent rules now in force a new application would never be allowed. The presence of the newts is one issue; another is that the site is just 150 metres from local houses, and the National Waste Strategy for Wales guidelines clearly state that the minimum distance between landfill sites and houses should be 250 metres (although a safer distance would be several kilometres).

In the latest shameful episode in the push to start landfill operations at the site, the Environment Agency declared in mid-August that it was happy with the potential environmental impact of landfill at the site (presumably no EA workers live in Johnstown), and that tipping could go ahead. Wagons full of unsorted waste from Merseyside started arriving at the site almost immediately, in advance of a meeting by Wrexham County Borough Council Planning Committee to discuss the situation. Johnstown people, along with others concerned about the environmental impact of landfill on local residents (of both human and newt variety), have been holding protests and blockades at the site entrance daily since landfill started, and an angry crowd of over 200 with banners, placards and a megaphone met councillors when they arrived at Wrexham’s Guildhall for the Planning Committee meeting on September 4th.

Wrexham councillors were asked to revoke the outdated and unviable planning permission of 1995 at this meeting, but they chose instead to allow landfill to go ahead with just a few modifications to the permission. Chief Planning Office Lawrence Isted seemed determined that the permission should not be revoked, using the old Planning Office trick of threatening councillors with the prospect of having to pay compensation if the revocation should subsequently be overturned by the Welsh Assembly Government. The county legal officer conjured up all sorts of doubts about revocation, although when questioned by councillors he admitted that the legal position was not clear. What was clear from the debate was that most of the councillors were clueless about the ins and outs of the case, and were obviously not in a position to make an informed judgement, but nevertheless ten of those present voted for an amendment which allowed landfill to go ahead with some additional conditions, while only six voted for the defunct permission to be revoked. There were cries of "shame!" and "disgrace!" from the public gallery in the council chamber, and a strong and angry mood from local people after the meeting.

So why has Wales been chosen as the place to dump Merseyside’s waste? It’s only a year since an official apology was made to Wales for the flooding of Tryweryn near Bala in 1965 to provide water to the people of Merseyside. But Wales is just too convenient a dumping ground to pass up, especially now Westminster sets limits on waste tipping in England. A helpful loophole in this directive allows councils to export their landfill to Wales without fear of penalty. The people of Johnstown and surrounding areas have vowed to continue the fight to stop landfill at the site, from Merseyside or from anywhere else.

Watch this space.

The shameful decision by Wrexham Council's planning committee on September 4 does not end the campaign to stop Liverpool councils dumping their waste in Hafod Quarry, Johnstown, Wrexham.

Here we publicly name and shame the 11 councillors who decided not to revoke the planning permission dating from 1995.

Here's how the planning committee voted on the Hafod scheme:

Nick Colborne (Lab, Ruabon N)
Gareth Griffiths (Lab, Coedpoeth)
Mark Davies (Ind, Coedpoeth)
Ronnie Prince (Ind, Cartrefle)
David Rogers (Lab, Brynyffynnon)
Paul Pemberton (Ind, Ponciau)

Ron Davies (Lib Dem, Little Acton)
Terry Evans (Ind, Chirk S)
Dave Broderick (Ind, Llay)
Gwyneth Roberts (Lib Dem, Grosvenor)
Barbara Roberts (Ind, Ceiriog Valley)
Howard Moysen (Lab, Cefn Mawr)
Mike Morris (Tory, Holt)
Mike Edwards (Lib Dem, Marford & Hoseley)
Lloyd Kenyon (Tory, Overton)
Gerry Craddock (Lib Dem, Garden Village)
Neville Price (Lab, Minera)

Left early without voting
Andrew Bailey (Lab, Gresford)
George James (Ind, Hermitage)

On holiday
David Griffiths (Lab, Gwersyllt E & S)