Following a two and a half year campaign by residents of the village of Kirknewton, located one kilometre from Kaimes Quarry landfill, has now been ruled illegal by the Scottish Executive. The landfill was licensed to take domestic, commercial, industrial wastes, asbestos, and three classes of clinical waste, and included 70,000 tonnes of waste from Edinburgh City Council from last year alone.

In 1986, the owners of the quarry, Hanson Quarry Products Europe Limited, submitted a rehabilitation plan, which included the deposit of ‘refuse or waste material’, with the site due to be completely restored by the end of 1989. However, for the following eleven years, the site has continued to operate illegally as a commercial landfill. In 1999, Edinburgh City Council ruled that the landfill was illegal, and this week’s decision was the result of an appeal against that rulling.

Although Edinburgh City Council initially decided that the landfill was legal, the Scottish Executive Reporter emphasised that he could see no connection between this decision and the Council’s status as customer of the site.

“The whole thing was a scam from beginning to end,” Stewart McKenna of Kirnewton Community Council told edie. “The planning authority, who administer and regulate the process of planning permission, have grossly failed in their duty. The question remains, do they have a vested interest in turning Nelson’s eye to this problem?”

“We are greatly disappointed that it has taken over two and a half years and has consumed an immense amount of time and expense for the facts to be established unequivocally, within which time dumping at this site has continued unabated,” said McKenna. “A further inquiry needs to be conducted within the council at the highest level to establish just how a licence was ever granted to this site and how the council could have acted in such ignorance of the very laws which its planners were obliged to enforce in the public interest.”

The major effect of the landfill on the residents of Kirknewton, said McKenna, were plagues of summer flies which had become worse in the last four years. Residents have been unable to open doors and windows in summer, or have outdoors barbecues.

“Simply saying sorry is not enough,” McKenna added. “We are looking for guarantees that Kirknewton will never again have to live with a dump on its doorstep and that the setting of two ancient monuments may be restored to reflect the importance of this site and the pleasant countryside within which it is located.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland, who had joined the campaign to have the landfill closed, were delighted with the decision. “The people of Kirknewton have suffered a considerable environmental injustice by having unauthorised landfill dumping 2000 tonnes per day on their doorstep and by the failure of the planning authority to recognise that the site had no planning permission,” said Kevin Dunion, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

The thirteen years of nuisance had only been ended by the determination of the community, said Dunion. “They succeeded in the face of official opposition and considerable financial risk, by taking court proceedings against the council.”

The decision means that the landfill will have to close by May this year, and be restored by the end of November 2002.

A spokesperson for the City of Edinburgh Council was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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