More than 1,200 coastal landfill sites are in danger of spilling their contents into the sea – leading to a pollution time bomb around the UK coastline.
Powerful storms and rising sea levels mean once-hidden waste could be exposed to pollute oceans and beaches, according to coastal policy expert Mark Stratton.
“One of the biggest risks of doing nothing at these sites is that the defences will fail and you’ll potentially have former landfill either eroding out onto the foreshore or leaching into the water. Alongside that there’s a potential impact on human health depending on what’s in the sites,” he said.
He told BBC Inside Out South West that in a few locations, such as in Essex, erosion is already eating away at the sides of landfill sites, exposing decades-worth of human detritus.
This could lead to dangerous pollutants, along with plastics such as microbeads and microfibers, leaking into the marine environment.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Research released last year by Queen Mary University of London found that the contents of the sites constituted a “significant contamination risk”.
The government is currently reviewing coastal and flooding erosion policy. One of the things it is looking at is what to do with defunct landfill sites.
“We’re on a journey in terms of raising the profile of the issue but what we don’t have at the moment is a funding mechanism that directly deals with coastal contamination from former landfill sites,” said Stratton, from the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership.
“The current funding mechanism is focused towards the protection of homes from flooding and erosion so where you have these coastal sites with very limited development behind them it’s very difficult to justify the funding.
“We’ve been lobbying for change for a number of years to try and broaden out what the funding can be used for.”Support us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.