Update: Emergency summit on Burrows erosion
10:49 24 October 2012
Experts will hold conference call today amid concerns the sea has breached former landfill site.
EXPERTS examining fresh erosion at Northam Burrows believe that rubbish unearthed during the recent high tides is that of the old landfill site.
Teams from Torridge District Council, Devon County Council and the Environment Agency will hold an emergency meeting today (Wednesday) to discuss a course of action amid concerns that the sea may have breached part of the old dump, used from the early 1940s to the mid 1990s.
Concerned local Mark Evans took pictures of the exposed rubbish after the sandy foreshore took a battering during some of the highest tides of the year in the middle part of last week.
He said: “The fears of many local people that the refuse tip would one day start appearing again have come true.
“A small amount or plastic bags ,wire and rubble is appearing as the high tides have caused considerable erosion due to the lack of maintenance of the sea defences.
“There has been a major lack of neglect to this site for many years regarding sea defences and the time has now come for serious action.
“We could wake up with a river full of rubbish and a major envoimential disaster.”
An independent report commissioned by Devon County Council in 2009 found that the average thickness of the buried landfill was around four-and-a-half metres and consisted of broken down refuse and garden waste, as well as an ‘abundance’ of glass, metal, wood and plastic.
It warned that should the landfill start to erode, material may wash out onto surrounding areas.
A spokesperson from Torridge District Council said: “The rubbish exposed is a mixture of plastic bags and rolls of carpet; we don’t believe there is anything toxic there.
“It’s not the main part of the Burrows but an area around the corner where the estuary narrows.
“The various agencies will be meeting to discuss what options there are going forward.
“They will be discussing a number of suggestions, including extending the rock armour to dissipate the energy of the waves and reduce their erosion of the sand dunes.”