Residents want to see the “managed closure” of a landfill site in Glasgow’s east end due to an “unbearable” smell, which forced some families to “cancel Christmas.”
One family left the area to visit relatives up north to avoid the stench during the festive season, it is claimed.
Members of Mount Vernon community council were joined by Glasgow politicians outside the landfill site on Friday morning to raise awareness of their campaign, encouraging passing drivers to ‘Honk because it’s Honkin.’
Frank O’Donnell, secretary of the community council, said there is an “ongoing issue with odour escape, ”despite the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) allowing the owners to resume operation after a recent suspension.
In a statement, Patersons of Greenoakhill Ltd, which runs the landfill site, apologised for the smell in late 2022 and said site infrastructure had since been upgraded.
Mr O’Donnell said the stench has been “unbearable for neighbours, particularly in Broomhouse and Mount Vernon, ”and a leakage in December meant “people had to basically cancel Christmas.”
He said: “We know of one particular family who basically gave up and went to their relatives up north.”
“Last summer was awful,” he added. “Folk were having to cancel family meetings, barbecues, even sitting out in the garden, letting their kids out to play.”
SEPA has said it takes complaints seriously and it is working with the operator to address issues.
It previously fined Patersons £6,200 after the firm breached its permit, resulting in offensive odour affecting local communities for eight days in June 2021 and sparking 138 complaints.
The environmental body also served a partial suspension notice on Patersons in January, requiring the firm to take steps to “prevent offensive off site odour.”
It was withdrawn on February 23, allowing the company to recommence accepting all waste allowed under its permit.
SEPA has pledged to continue monitoring the site, however residents and councillors are concerned about Patersons’ plans to expand.
Mr O’Donnell said a campaign, which included over 1,000 complaints, had helped halt plans to extend the site, which he believed would increase “the life of it by another four or five years”.
However, the firm has since held a pre-application consultation, so “they are considering coming back in again”, he said.
He added: “Really what we are looking for here is managed closure ultimately.
“We have been fortunate in that the communities have actually backed us. People are interested and they are interested because their lives are affected by it.”
Councillor Laura Doherty, SNP, said people feel the landfill has been “a blight on the area for years.”
She said: “Being born and brought up here, I don’t remember a time when the odour has been as bad as it has been in the last year.”
Recent action from SEPA was welcomed, she said, but “within days of the suspension being lifted the odours returned.”
She added: “If Patersons can’t prevent this pollution then they shouldn’t be operating. It’s as simple as that.”
Councillor Kevin Lalley, Labour, said surrounding communities have “endured horrendous smells over the past three months” and any application “to increase this landfill must be rejected.”
Families in the area must be able to “enjoy their homes without a continuous stench emanating from this site,” he added.
Councillor Frank McAveety, Labour, said the problems had been going “for a number of years” and must be “sorted for good”, while Councillor Jill Pidgeon, also Labour, said she was fully behind the community’s campaign against plans to “increase the lifespan” of the site.
A statement from Patersons said the Greenoakhill landfill site is “an important facility for the disposal of waste in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley area.”
“Challenging weather conditions late 2022 resulted in delays with the installation of infrastructure that unfortunately resulted in odours being detectable beyond the site boundary.
“Patersons of Greenoakhill apologise for the impact this odour will have had on the local community. Greenoakhill Landfill has completed upgrades to the site infrastructure and the facility has been returned to a fully compliant position.
“Additional operational measures have also been put in place to help prevent this incident reoccurring in future.”
A SEPA spokeswoman said since the suspension was lifted, there have been “a reduction in the number of complaints as a result”.
However, it continues to receive “a small number of reports regarding odour and is carrying out regular odour assessment and inspections.”