SEPA Update : Lower Melville Wood Landfill

This update covers the period from 16 May 2020 to 30 June 2020, and identifies what steps SEPA have taken to address the odour emissions from the landfill.

Please see the update sent to Community Councils (Friday 15 May 2020) regarding odour emissions from the site during April and May 2020.   

All SEPA staff are currently working from home but remain contactable through email. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have adapted our incident response procedures. Protecting our staff, operators and the public is our highest priority. As a result, we will only carry out a site visit for events where our physical presence is necessary to rectify the incident. SEPA will continue to operate in line with Scottish Government coronavirus guidelines and where possible will use remote tactics to secure protection of the environment and human health. 

Under normal circumstances, SEPA undertakes routine and proactive odour assessments, which will be resumed as soon as practicable. In the meantime, SEPA appreciate the notifications from the public, which continue to alert us to an issue and press the operators for further actions.

Site Inspection

SEPA have created a new regulatory inspection regime for 2020. Under current lockdown restrictions, the way we normally undertake site inspections is not possible. A regulatory interaction with the site was undertaken on 28 May 2020. 

  1. The site has been relatively quiet over the last two months, with no third party wastes deposited. 
  2. Landfilling operations continue during the pandemic, although some wastes have been directed for incineration.
  3. Monthly monitoring, as required by permit conditions are still being undertaken by the operator.
  4. Composting is due to restart at the site. This may be used in the capping of the completed cells.
  5. In the coming months there will be more processing of skip wastes and household wastes received from Household Waste Recycling Centres.  
  6. The site manger identified that sufficient cover material is being applied at the end of the working day. These materials will prevent the escape of litter, stop scavenging by birds and suppress, to a limited extent, odours escaping. 

Variation to the Permit 

SEPA received an application on 22 June 2020 to vary the PPC permit. This application is request permission to allow the storage of Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) at the site and for the storage of bulk food wastes in an enclosed building.

Odours from the Permitted Site

Despite two sets of repairs to the landfill liner, SEPA has continued to receive complaints regarding odours.  

Total number of complaints received from 16 May 2020.  

DateNumber of complaints
21 May 20202
29 May 20203
30 May 20201

Total number of complaints for May 2020 was 39.
Complaints peaked on May 5, with 13 complaints received. See previous update. 
1 June 2020 1
2 June 20201
5 June 20201
8 June 2020 1
11 June 20201
14 June 20203
15 June 20201
16 June 20202
18 June 20201
20 June 20202
22 June 20201
24 June 20204
25 June 20201
26 June 20203

Total number of complaints for June 2020 was 23.Complaints peaked on 24 June 2020, with 4 complaints received.

The site manager, Michael Lee, has notified of the complaints received by SEPA. He has been undertaking odour assessments when travelling to work. Following increased complaints, he will be undertaking odour assessments when leaving the site at the end of the day. 

Some complainants have raised issues regarding his objectivity and SEPA accept that point. This is why SEPA are continuing to stress the importance of the local community making SEPA aware when they are experiencing problems with the site. As Scotland continues to reduce its risk to the Coronavirus. Restrictions on SEPA staff movement will ease and normal operating practice can resume. SEPA appreciate the public’s support during this difficult period.    

All complaints received from members of the public are being recorded. To date SEPA has received 536 complaints in 2020. 


Neil Morrison

Environment Protection Officer  

2 July 2020.

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