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Emergency upgrades needed for North Farm landfill site in Tunbridge Wells

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A closed landfill site requires emergency upgrades amid human health and environmental concerns.

Kent County Council (KCC) is proposing to invest £1.2m to modernise the ageing North Farm depot in Tunbridge Wells. It has been shut for several years.


A recent KCC audit report has found a number of "age-related" issues at the site.

This includes an old gas pipe system which was used to stop greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere which has become "difficult to maintain a fully functioning compliant system."

Significant and increasing levels of a highly toxic liquid, Leachate, have also been found on the landfill site.

The liquid has been produced from higher levels of rainfall, which have spread into the waste.

This has then collected in the drainage ditches and sent to the nearby Southern Water's wastewater treatment works.

Southern Water declined to comment on this.

The site of North Farm landfill. Picture: Kent County Council (56590598)
The site of North Farm landfill. Picture: Kent County Council (56590598)

Health experts say that contaminated water can lead to land pollution and cause health issues.

A KCC report published online: "Doing nothing has the potential for harm to the environment or human health to be realised.

"The site may be officially classified as contaminated land and remediation costs imposed upon KCC."

The council is responsible for managing the impact of its closed landfill sites on both the environment and human health.

The North Farm landfill site is located to the back of Tunbridge Wells household recycling centre, in North Farm Lane.

KCC says urgent action must be taken to address the human health and environmental issues. A report says: "The recommended option is for the authority to award a contract for environmental remediation works."

Under this, KCC has pledged to install new technology, including a geosynthetic clay liner (GCL) across the top of the site to minimise Leachate generation.

Old gas collection pipe systems will also be ugraded.

The report adds: "This will be the most cost effective. It will seek to address the environmental issues identified and reduce risk to KCC."

Councillors will meet next week to discuss the situation during a KCC environment and transport committee meeting on May 19.

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