Rubbish exposed during Burrows erosion

Fears that stormy seas may have breached buried landfill site.

A CLEAN up is expected to start tomorrow (Friday) to clear rubbish unearthed after spring tides and stormy seas eroded part of Northam Burrows.

The highest tides of the year battered the coastline this week, exposing refuse buried in the sandy foreshore.

It is unclear whether the debris is that of the old refuse tip, used from the early 1940s to the mid 1990s, although the discovery has sparked some concern that the sea is beginning to erode the former landfill site.

Earlier today, the Royal North Devon Golf Club tweeted pictures of the rubbish and said: “Old Westward Ho! refuse tip showing signs of being breached. Years of refuse could be in the sea in days #nomorebeach.”


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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.

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It said: “This is likely to be both look and smell unpleasant as rubbish is exposed and carried by the tide along the coast.

“It is also possible that a risk may be posed from these materials should sharp objects etc be exposed.

“Given the importance of the site for both tourism and wildlife this needs to be given further consideration.”

But a spokesperson for Torridge District Council said it was ‘unlikely’ that the rubbish had come from the old tip.

“The tip is further back than that and the rubbish is just too new to be from the tip.

“It’s not very pleasant but we’re pretty confident it’s not rubbish from the tip.

“We believe it is refuse that has been washed along the shoreline and has amalgamated over time.”

The district council said officers had visited the site today but it had not been practical to clear the rubbish. A team from Devon County Council is set to investigate the erosion tomorrow.

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