Marine debris


Ageing landfill dumps pose a threat to English beaches as a “ticking timebomb.”

According to a survey conducted by the local government, 26 council sites are already dumping waste onto cliffs and into the sea.

According to new research, hundreds of aging landfill dumps along England’s coast that contain plastics, chemicals, and other waste are a ticking time bomb that poses a risk of polluting beaches and the sea.

In some cases, the waste dumps have been there for 100 years, but little is known about what was disposed of there. A breakdown in the climate, accompanied by rising sea levels and flooding, is making it more likely that a variety of pollutants will enter the sea.

A survey conducted by the local government association found that close to designated environmentally protected areas are more than three-quarters of the landfill dumps identified.

According to the findings of the survey, which was carried out in collaboration with the coastal group network and the coastal special interest group (LGA Coastal SIG) of the Local Government Association, 26 coastal councils have facilities that are already leaking a significant amount of waste onto the cliffs and beaches.

195 coastal landfill sites were identified as being vulnerable to tidal flooding and/or erosion by the councils that responded to the survey. However, the LGA Coastal SIG estimates that between 1,200 and 1,400 historical coastal waste dumps in the UK are currently at risk of flooding and erosion.

The group’s officer in charge of the coastal landfill, Mark Stratton, stated: “There are hundreds of coastal landfill sites at risk of tidal flooding and erosion. During visits to sites, I have been overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, especially the threat of waste eroding or leaching out on to the often-designated natural coastal environment.”

“The landfill sites have been inherited by councils, and stretch from the north to the south of England.”

In order to deal with the threat, the councils are requesting assistance from the government, as well as an investigation into the contents of the sites and reinforcement of the dumps to prevent pollution from leaking from sites that are already deteriorating or flooding.

The Local Government Association’s spokesperson for the environment, David Renard, stated: “Our coastlines need urgent support. This problem will not go away, and funding is needed to prevent hundreds of disasters on our shores. Councils want to protect their local environments but need urgent support from the government to save our coastlines from this ticking timebomb.”

The following was stated by a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs: “We are committed to working closely with local authorities, who have the responsibility of ensuring historic landfill sites are managed in a consistent and environmentally friendly way. Findings from the LGA survey will help inform our planned national assessment on the impacts of coastal erosion and flooding at historic coastal landfill sites, which will help improve management of these sites in the future.”


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