Blue Flower

More deadly leachate from Viridor's Dimmer landfill site is suspected to be seeping into the River Cary again. A failing treatment centre is thought to be responsible.

This comes on the back of the absolutely disgraceful decision by Somerset County Council to fabricate a reason whereby Viridor would be allowed to repurpose the site. A site which was set to close was somehow given over to Viridor in perpetuity with all the planning permissions in place. A decision taken swiftly without any regard to the local situation, and surrounded by total secrecy. We're not even allowed to know what information the pink paper contained!

Viridor - Approved by Somerset County Council, Rejected by everyone else

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The Pollution of the River Cary

Have you noticed the ever-darkening water that flows down the River Cary? When did you last see a fish, a kingfisher or a water vole there? In mid October I watched a heron fishing in the ponds of Wheathill golf course. A few days later I found the heron, dead on the river bank, where the black River Cary flows alongside the course.

Like you, I’ve heard that “stuff” is put into the river upstream from us. I needed to find out more. I called the Environment Agency (EA) Incident line on 0800 807060 to report the dead heron. What I learned from the EA was astounding.

Viridor, who operate Dimmer tip, pay the EA for a licence to discharge up to 150 cubic metres of black/brown leachate (drainage from the tip) into the river every day. That’s 150,000 litres or 150 tons. Although the amount is never quite up to that limit, they are discharging, on average, 40,000 - 60,000 litres per day (40-60 tons). In periods of low rainfall, such as recently, the river looks blacker and more concentrated than normal as there’s more leachate in there than clean river water. There is a huge amount of pollutant going into our river.

I was reassured by the EA that the black leachate is treated prior to being discharged into the river. They have furnished me with numbers and readings taken from various points in the river during 2015 and say they are within limits. But, whose limits? What I see from the readings is a big increase in the amount of chemicals in the water downstream from the discharge, not to mention the dreadful colour of the water. They say wildlife is not affected. I’m not convinced at all. When did you last see any wildlife along the river? What I have discovered is that cattle drinking have taken ill and dogs swimming have developed skin and ear infections. Until recently the vets at Cary have been blissfully unaware of what is happening to the river.

I fully understand that the tip at Dimmer requires drainage. What I don’t think is acceptable in this day is the long standing arrangement between the Environment Agency and Viridor to discharge partially treated black leachate into the river. I’m told that Viridor are planning on building a new treatment plant. In the meantime, they have planted willow trees on the river flood plain and plan to divert the leachate to the willows in times of low river flow. To me this feels like a half-hearted attempt to appease the public and it will just spread the leachate around without dealing with the pollution properly.

I feel that we should insist on the installation of the best modern treatment plant available in order to produce clean leachate water for discharge. The nub is they’re expensive. Would Viridor pay? Could we influence it? Would you like to get involved? I’ve been to the discharge point. I’ve seen what’s going into our river. It’s shocking.

(Written in the Six Pilgrims Parish Magazine 2016 December by Jeremy Spence - Video provided by Jeremy Spence)

I think that officials and politicians have forgotten that their place in Democracy is to empower people by representing their interests.
We don’t have to follow the recent trend for wilful ignorance, we can make reality-based decisions just by turning the light up.

The bottom line here is that several small-town bureaucrats on Somerset County Council, under the cover of expediency, made a decision that makes zero sense to anyone.

The only thing we know for certain is that suited them and suited their waste management partner Viridor. But it doesn't suit the small B roads or anyone living in the residential areas leading to and from the Dimmer site.

What's troubling me is this: You only have to read the reports on how Viridor have been behaving in Croydon and Cardiff to know that they have fooling naiive Councillors down to a fine art. Somerset County Council knew the Dimmer site was planned for closure. They knew Viridor had no option to repurpose the site. They knew that in 1991 Viridor understood that when the land fill was full Viridor were out. Yet somehow, within months of a permanent closure Viridor emerged from behind closed door sessions with a do-whatever-you-want 30 year contract.
This means a perpetual occupation of Dimmer, an increase in vehicle size and number, a repurposed site, brand new buildings and planning permission already granted ... against ALL local resident's wishes, all parish councils and the unanimous rejection by the Area East planning application committee  was over-ridden without a single justifiable reason or public advantage for keeping the site open at all.

The only realistic conclusion is that the Somerset County Council vote was fixed long before they passed it 4 to 3 in favour of Viridor. We can use the words bribery and corruption in relationship to this astonishing story because if we call it "controversial" it undermines the severity of the problem.

How can a decision like this be taken behind closed doors in secret meetings without anyone being held to account?

  • It's clearly economically negligent. During a 35 mile round trip every HGV will mean paying two men to twiddle their thumbs as passengers to deliver it here and plus an aditional astronomic fuel bill makes no business sense.
  • It's environmentally damaging. Thousands of HGVs clogging the County's roads to get Yeovil's waste to Dimmer and then thousands more to take it out again in twin-axle monster trucks is a direct and willful attack on the countryside.
  • It's geographically challenged. Dimmer is not on an A road or a Motorway. It's not in the direction of any plant that will use the recycled waste. In fact it's almost 20 miles in the wrong direction for many towns. But even more saddening is that Yeovil closed it's waste station in 1995 and pays £200,000 in fuel to get it to Dimmer. It is surrounded by land fit for the purpose of sorting out it's own recycling at a fraction of the cost of  transporting it to Dimmer. Then to add further insanity to the equation, Street's and Glastonbury's waste could be trucked straight down the A39 to Viridor's plant at Walpole near Bridgewater which is actually on the A38/M5 then, directly to Avonmouth.

All the Parish Councils along the B3153 will hold a joint meeting, date to be arranged. A spokesman for the debacle was invited to explain themselves to the public but Mr Steve Read (A public servant) has point blank refused to make himself available. I suggest you tell everyone what they've been up to over in Taunton because let's face it, unless you do something, it can't be stopped.

Contact Steve Read if you want your voice heard or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.