Poplars Cannock information page

Closes 20 Jan 2021

Opened 20 Jan 2020


Page created January 2020. Last updated 23 July 2020.

Coronavirus: The Environment Agency response

We are working hard with Government and other emergency responders on protecting the public and the environment from the effects of Coronavirus. The Environment Agency remains fully operational, with the majority of our staff working from home. 

In accordance with the Government’s and our own internal guidance, we continue to carry out regulatory visits to sites that could cause serious environmental harm.  Since restrictions have lifted further we are also now able to recommence visits to sites with sustained amenity issues, where needed.


We regulate the Environmental Permit held by Biffa Waste Services Ltd for Poplars Landfill Site and Anaerobic Digestion Facility. The permit contains conditions relating to site operations, which includes the waste types allowed, the handling of them and any relevant emissions standards and monitoring requirements.

A copy of the Environmental Permit for the site can be viewed here

Mobile Monitoring Facility (MMF)

To enable us to further understand the potential impact on air quality from the Biffa Poplars Landfill site, we installed a mobile monitoring facility (MMF) on 31 January 2020 in the car park of the Newhall Farm Pub in Cannock. This MMF contains equipment capable of measuring methane (CH4), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX).

Our air quality monitoring team have started analysing the data which was collected from the monitoring unit between 3 February 2020 and 17 June 2020. As mentioned in our previous updates, a full report on the measurements and findings will be available towards the end of the summer, which you will be able to view from this information page.

All data will be provided to the Local Council, and to Public Health England for them to update any advice as necessary.

The air monitoring unit will remain in place for the foreseeable future to support our investigation into odour reports in the area. It will continue to take measurements of methane (CH4), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX), although readings taken after 17 June will be not be included in the report mentioned above.

The photograph below shows the mobile monitoring facility in the pub car park.

Photograph showing the mobile monitoring facility in the pub car park

Current Landfill Situation - July 2020

We received an increased number of odour reports in late June/early July and on 23 June we substantiated a faint, intermittent ‘waste’ odour.  Following these reports and subsequent conversations with Biffa, we continue to work with them, to ensure all appropriate measures are being taken to minimise odour from newly deposited waste, landfill gas and all other potential sources.

Poplars has remained operational throughout the lockdown period, albeit with a much reduced waste input to the site. Some of the works completed in recent weeks, to minimise odour, includes:

  • Installation of a further 3662 metres squared (m2) of temporary geomembrane capping on the current active tipping slopes. This was completed on 3 June 2020. This type of capping work will continue across the site as waste is added to the landfill over time.
  • Construction of a new access road to the tipping area, to allow the original entrance to the current tipping area to be capped.
  • Installation of 10 additional pin wells immediately next to the active tipping slopes.
  • There has been a significant increase in gas collection as a result of measures taken on site over the recent months, which will have a positive impact on managing and reducing odour potential for the site. Approximately an extra 500-700 cubic metres an hour (m3/hour) of gas is being collected, dependent on atmospheric pressure.
  • Biffa identified a localised crack in the clay capping on part of the site, which may have contributed towards landfill gas odours. This capping is currently being repaired and Biffa’s ongoing gas surveys are not detecting any further landfill gas issues at this location.

The photograph below shows an Environment Agency Officer inspecting the temporary capping work earlier this year on the slopes of the active tipping area.

Photograph showing an Environment Agency Officer inspecting the temporary capping work on the slopes of the active tipping area.

Operational life of the landfill

As explained in our February update, this is something which is decided by the County Council, whose contact details are included in the FAQs section of this page. However, Biffa stated in their December 2019 newsletter that the site takes in 500,000 tonnes of waste a year, and has a void of approximately 4.5 million tonnes to fill until completion.

Keeping local residents updated

We know the importance of face to face conversations, which is why on 21 January and 5 March this year, before social distancing was put in place by the Government, six of our experienced Regulatory Officers visited the Heath Hayes area of Cannock to distribute our late February newsletter to the local community by hand. We spoke to a number of residents during the leaflet drop and were able to provide feedback in person and re-assure people that even though the landfill odour situation is much improved, we continue to work with the site to ensure they operate in accordance with their permit requirements.

During this period of restriction due to Coronavirus we will only update you if there are any significant changes we need to make you aware of.

We are also members of the liaison group organised by Biffa Waste Services Ltd.

You can view our previous community updates below:

December 2019

January 2020

Early February 2020

Late February 2020

March and April 2020

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

We have produced a generic landfill FAQ document, which you can read here.

For any concerns regarding the operational life of the site, final height and profile of the landfill, hours of operation and traffic movements to and from the site, please contact Staffordshire County Council on Regulation@Staffordshire.gov.uk or via their general enquiries number on 0300 111 8000.

Incident reporting

We want to hear from you if you have an environmental incident or concern to report, including any odour concerns.

To do this, call our free 24 hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60

Reporting odour incidents

More Information

When reporting odour incidents to us, we will ask you to assess the strength of the odour on a scale of 0 to 6. To help with your assessment, an explanation of this scale is as follows:

0 – No odour

– Very faint odour (need to inhale into the wind to smell anything)

2 – Faint odour (you can detect an odour when you inhale normally)

3 – Distinct odour (there is clearly an odour in the air as you leave your car or enter the area)

4 – Strong odour (a bearable odour but strong, you could stay in the area for some time)

5 – Very strong odour (unpleasantly strong, you will want to leave the area quickly)

6 – Extremely strong odour (likely to cause nausea and a strong need to remove yourself from the odour immediately)

No landfill will ever be completely odour free. However, the level and type of odour from such operations should not be causing offence. The permit conditions require an Environment Agency officer to make a judgement about whether an odour is offensive and we can only take enforcement action where it is deemed offensive and the operator is not using all appropriate measures.

Thank you for visiting our information page.


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