First Variable Monetary Penalty served by SEPA for landfill odours at Glasgow site

31st January 2023


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A landfill site in Glasgow has been served with a civil penalty fine of £6,200 following a breach of its environmental permit which resulted in the release of odours that affected local communities over a period of eight days in June 2021 and saw 138 complaints.

Site visits conducted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in March 2021 identified concerns that a new tipping area at the landfill site, known as the Cell 10 Extension, was close to domestic properties. Due to the proximity to the site boundary, SEPA advised that maximum controls were required to manage odours by the landfill operator.

A month later, the operator began depositing waste in the new area which led to a change in the odours reported, with the majority being a rotten waste/bin smell. SEPA asked the operator to implement extra measures to control the smell. Between 8 and 15 June 2021, the site breached its environmental permit on five separate occasions, causing severe impact on local communities, which was evidenced by odour assessments by SEPA officers.

SEPA issued Paterson’s of Greenoakhill Ltd a Variable Monetary Penalty (VMP), the first in Scotland served by SEPA, of £6,200 and ordered them to pay £1,156.35 costs. VMPs are discretionary financial penalties which SEPA can impose for an offence following an appropriate investigation.

SEPA’s Greater Glasgow and Clyde unit manager, Pamela Armstrong, said: “SEPA acknowledges the impact odour can have on communities, and we take complaints very seriously. We tried to work with Paterson’s of Greenoakhill Ltd to address the issues and secure compliance but were unsuccessful. We believe a VMP is the appropriate course of action in this case.

“The eight-day period of odour the community had to deal with was significant and was due to a lack of reasonable care by the operator. It chose to dispose of waste in an area significantly closer to housing than previously, and continued to do so throughout the eight days, despite being notified by SEPA that offensive odours were being recorded off -site. The site was initially informed by SEPA on 9 June 2021 that failure to act to prevent odour from leaving the site would result in a significant event.

“We hope the £6,200 penalty imposed, plus payment of SEPA’s costs, demonstrates SEPA’s commitment to take proportionate enforcement action when operators fail to comply with conditions of their permit to operate. VMPs are a new tool in our kit and we will not hesitate to use them when appropriate.”

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