Major action planned to stop pollution from former South Downs landfill site

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Major action is being planned to stop contaminated liquid from a former South Downs landfill site from polluting the River Adur.

Global building material producer Cemex is putting forward proposals to future proof the former Hales landfill site in Small Dole against climate change and extreme rainfall.

The site – to the south and west of Small Dole, 2km to the north of Upper Beeding and 2.6km to the south of Henfield – has a thin layer of restoration soils that allows high levels of rainwater to infiltrate the waste.

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This, says Cemex, generates a large volume of weak leachate – contaminated liquid generated from water percolating through the waste material. The leachate is currently collected and pumped from the landfill and treated on-site.

The site of the former landfill site at Small DoleThe site of the former landfill site at Small Dole
The site of the former landfill site at Small Dole

Cemex says it needs to take action now to combat climate change and ensure that extreme or increased rainfall events do not cause leachate to rise within the landfill site and discharge in an uncontrolled way into the River Adur.

It is proposing to increase the thickness of the landfill site’s restoration soils that would promote surface runoff and reduce leachate generation.

This, it says, would protect the river and enhance the environment by increasing biodiversity. It says a new public footpath would also be provided in the area. If it goes ahead, the work would take place over a six to eight-year period.

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Cemex is currently seeking the public’s views over its proposals before applying for planning permission from West Sussex County Council. If granted, it hopes to start work by 2026/27.

It says the land will not be publicly accessible while the works are being carried out for health and safety reasons, but adds that the development would be phased and progressive restoration undertaken.

Meanwhile, Cemex is to host a public consultation event at Small Dole Village Hall on Monday July 22 from 3pm-7pm.

A Cemex spokesperson said: “This event is an opportunity for local residents to learn about the proposed plans first-hand, view consultation boards, and provide valuable feedback.

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“For those unable to attend on July 22, the consultation period will continue until August 22. We encourage residents to visit our project website at to view the consultation boards and complete an online feedback form.”

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