FURIOUS neighbours of an eyesore Wigan tip today demanded action as public health fears grew.
Rotting waste, appalling smells, rat infestation and the sheer hideous look of the abandoned McCann Plant (NW) site in New Springs are making other businesses increasingly angry.
But watchdogs’ options are limited because the one-time owners of the dump on Wigan’s Kirkless Industrial Estate were caught breaking the law.
Had they had a permit, the Environment Agency could have forced them to clear it up by now.
But the firm was hit with a £51,000 fine last year for operating without one, and had previously ignored an order to get rid of the mess. There has been no activity on the site since.
The agency says it is exploring other legal options as neighbouring business owners’ anger mounts.
Philip Adedeji has a yard on the estate. He said: “There must be every toxic waste you can think of on that site, and much of it leaks out of the compound on to the rest of the estate.
“Everybody on the industrial estate is really frustrated by this site, and we just can’t understand why it was ever allowed to get this bad.
“The authorities must have known a long time before the site stopped operating that the situation was spiralling out of control. It didn’t get this way overnight. It’s probably been building up for about 10 years.
“There are people from the authorities on the estate regularly, but whenever we ask them what is being done about what people call McCann Mountain we never get a straight answer, and we just want to know what’s happening to resolve the problem.”
When it was open, the site operated as a waste recycling and sorting plant. Rubbish was delivered there, and should have then been sorted through and then sent on, either to be recycled or put in landfill, but industrial estate occupants say this didn’t happen. The rubbish was simply left to pile up.
Mr Adedeji added: “There is a 30-ton excavator machine on the site, which has been completely buried under tons of rubbish which just kept being tipped on the site.
“The perimeter fences are all bursting with the pressure on them, and it is only a matter of time before they give in and someone gets hurt.
“Rubbish from the site blows all over the place, and in summer the smell is awful, the site is infested with rats, and there are flies everywhere.”
Another man who works on the industrial estate said: “Something needs to be done about this site, it’s been a problem for years and we thought that when it got closed down it’d be the end of the matter, but the rubbish is still there, and it’s still a huge eyesore.”
A previous incarnation of the company, McCann Waste Management Limited, was fined £20,000 in 2008 after boss James Manning admitted illegally tipping controlled waste, which had polluted the nearby canal.
But while the firm was wound up, Manning then began running McCann Waste Managers Limited from the same site, without a permit. He was convicted of this in January 2010.
After that came McCann Plant (NW), this time run by Manning’s partner Gail Sargent, and it was this that was fined for operating without a licence last May.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We had previously served a legal notice requiring the removal of the waste from the site, but this was not complied with.
“The Environment Agency is currently pursuing all legal options to enforce the remediation of the site.
“If the site had a permit, the operator would be legally required to return the site to its condition prior to the waste activities starting. However, as there is no permit currently in place for the site, as such there is nothing that we can legally enforce against. However, we are looking at other legal options available to us to enforce the remediation of the site.
“The Environment Agency operates under the policy that the polluter pays principle. This means that the person responsible for depositing waste on a site has the responsibility to remove it. Our officers have been in contact with the local community, the local MP and councillors.”