ARPLEY tip operators have claimed there has only been one substantiated complaint over odours coming from the site in the last two years.

Figures read out during an inquiry over the Sankey Bridges landfill site found 25 complaints were found to be smells not coming from Arpley and on 101 occasions there was no evidence to suggest a site visit had been made to investigate the claims.

The statistics will anger residents who have repeatedly complained over smells, flies and traffic around the site leading to plans for a 12-year extension being turned down in January 2013.

The inquiry, which will be concluded next week, also heard complaints were made to environmental health in January last year but there were none between February and July until tip bosses FCC submitted an appeal.

Paul Tucker, representing the tip operators, added: “One interpretation of the figures is that when people learnt the planning application had been refused the complaints stopped and when the appeal was made they started again.

“I would suggest that points in my client’s favour and complaints were motivated by people wanting to express their opposition to the planning application and appeal.”

Mr Tucker also read from an e-mail where a member of council staff said it was ‘making life easier’ for FCC getting only a few complaints and also asked for clarification over whether a letter had been sent out encouraging residents to complain.

He said it was a clear attempt to generate complaints.

Environmental health officer Stephen Smith, speaking at the end of last week, said it was quite possible after the refusal was granted people relaxed thinking the site was set to close.

Throughout this week representatives from the tip operators have been giving evidence.

Nicholas Blake, from site operations, was cross-examined on Tuesday and agreed there was the capacity in Manchester to meet the area’s landfill needs until 2025 if Arpley was to close.

On Tuesday, Warrington South MP David Mowat will be speaking as a witness alongside clr Pat Wright before closing submissions on Wednesday.