Whitemoss Landfill

Whitemoss is an important part of the UK’s hazardous waste management infrastructure.

Located less than 500 metres from junction 4 of the M58 motorway Whitemoss has, for more than twenty five years, been an important facility for disposal of residues from recycling activities and the remediation of contaminated land.

Where hazardous wastes cannot be recycled then those residual wastes need to be disposed of in accordance with best engineering practice to mitigate their environmental impact.

Any wastes received at the site must be pre-treated and meet stringent waste acceptance criteria before they can be accepted. The majority of wastes that we accept are contaminated soils allowing remediation of brownfield sites, residues from recycling such as filter cakes and ash from burning of wood and paper in biomass plants.

Development Consent Order

Because of the important role that large hazardous waste landfill sites fulfill in the management of wastes in the UK the Government considers them to be Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). When the Planning Act 2008 was introduced NSIPs were taken out of the normal planning system and became subject to Development Consent Orders (DCO). In considering applications, the Planning Inspectorate are guided by National Policy Statements (NPS), which set out Government policy on the need for such infrastructure and the principles that the Planning Inspectorate should apply when deciding whether to grant development consent. The DCO process involves extensive consultation with statutory and other consultees and the appointment of Inspectors to hold an Examination in Public which is similar to a Public Enquiry.

The Examination required the preparation of various environmental reports which included monitoring various parameters over a period of more than twelve months and an extensive and expensive consultation process which was completed in February 2014.

In January 2014 our application was accepted for Examination which involved the appointment of three planning inspectors, known as the Examining Authority. During 2014 there were various public hearings culminating in the Examination in Public.

The Examining Authority reported to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in February 2015.

In May 2015 the Secretary of State granted development consent via the White Moss Landfill Order 2015 for the construction of a new landfill void at Whitemoss which will provide capacity until 2035.

Judicial Review

A Judicial Review Hearing into the Secretary of State’s decision was heard at the Appeal Court in March 2017. The hearing revolved around the interpretation of the National Policy Statement.

In June 2017 the Appeal Court handed down their Judgement and the most senior planning judge at the Appeal Court, Lord Justice Lindblom concluded that:

“The Secretary of State neither misinterpreted nor misapplied any policy of the NPS in making the development consent order.”

“For these reasons I would dismiss the claim for judicial review.”

An application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was submitted to the Supreme Court in November 2017.

On 1st February 2018 the Supreme Court refused the application  because the application did not raise an arguable point of law. Costs were awarded against the Appellant and the Supreme Court ordered a detailed assessment of their legal aid costs.

This clear and unequivocal decision brought the legal review process to a close.

Environmental Permit

Hazardous waste landfill sites must hold an Environmental Permit  to operate. This is issued by the Environment Agency and details how the site is to be constructed, operated and managed. Whitemoss Landfill Limited had a permit for the existing site so for the extension we required a variation not a new application.

In September 2016 the Environment Agency issued revised Environmental Permit EPR/DP3639LM/V005 for the new landfill area.

Once the revised Environmental Permit was issued preparation works for the extension commenced.

The Environmental Permit requires extensive monitoring of the landfill site including boundary site impacts such as odour, dust and noise.

During 2017 there were four odour complaints , four noise complaints and two dust complaints. All the complaints were investigated and only one was substantiated, an intermittent noise issue caused by a loose track pad on one of the machines working on site.  The machine was immediately stopped and the track repaired before putting it back into use.

There have been no substantiated odour issues relating to the landfill site since 2006. There are, however, separate odour issues relating to the local industrial and agricultural areas which we have no control over. These commonly relate to waste spreading on local fields to improve agricultural yields.

Whitemoss regularly monitors any potential dust from the site and have strict benchmarks set by the Environment Agency which we must adhere to. The main source of dust detected tends to come from the adjacent M58 motorway, but even with that additional source levels are well below standards set by the Environment Agency.

During 2017 as part of an ongoing improvement programme we replaced a number of monitoring boreholes and installed an additional upwind continuous dust monitor.


The construction of the landfill cells involves the excavation of clay and shale which are used for engineering or general fill purposes both on and off site.  As the minerals are excavated they are stored in stockpiles around the site.

Technical information about the clay used for lining the cells is available here. The clay is the brown mineral and  the shale the grey rock that can be seen in this photograph:

During 2017 we carried out construction works associated with the development of the next landfill cell, Phase Ai. The original landfill cell 3 is still operational and working to new restoration contours granted by the Development Consent Order.


Construction of Phase Ai was completed in 2017. The design of the landfill is agreed with the Environment Agency and construction is monitored by independent engineers. Each element of the lining system is subject to third party testing and verification which are included in a Construction Quality Assurance Report which was was approved by the Environment Agency in December 2017. That report details how the landfill cell has been constructed and validated and can be accessed via the link above.

During 2018 we are constructing Phase Aii which adjacent to Phase Ai. This photograph shows the clay liner being rolled in layers on the northern slope of the cell.

A meeting of the Whitemoss Landfill Community Liaison Committee was held on 21st December 2017. The main purpose of the committee is to provide a forum for the discussion of issues between the local community, Whitemoss Landfill Limited and site regulators. We also report and update the committee on the activities on site during 2017 and planneds works during 2018.  The committee includes representatives of site regulators, local Councillors, Council for the Protection of Rural England and Whitemoss Landfill. Minutes of the latest meeting are available in the documents section of this website.

Landfill Tax

Landfill tax rates from 1st April 2018 are £88.95 per tonne for standard rated wastes and £2.80 per tonne for lower rated wastes.

The government announces the rates of Landfill Tax at least 2 years in advance to provide longer term certainty on rates. Autumn Budget 2017 outlined RPI increases in the rates of Landfill Tax for 2019-20. Budget 2018 will announce the rates of Landfill Tax for the year 2020-21.

From 1 April 2018, Landfill Tax is also chargeable on disposals at unauthorised waste sites in England and Northern Ireland.

In England and Northern Ireland, the illegal disposal tax charge will be the tax level avoided plus up to an additional penalty of 100% of the tax avoided. In Scotland the “unauthorised” rate will be 150% of the usual tax rate.

The Whitemoss Community Fund

The Whitemoss Community Fund provides grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 to fund community and environmental projects located in the West Lancashire Borough Council area and that are within 5 miles of the Whitemoss landfill site in Skelmersdale.

In 2017 five local projects were awarded £80,000.

The largest grant was awarded to Westhead Village Hall who were granted £19,734 to improve the Village Hall to encourage community use of the building. The Hall was taken over by the local community when it faced closure in 2016.

The communities of Crawford Village and Burscough benefited from awards of around £18,500. The grant awarded to Crawford Village and Pimbo Lane Playing Fields was the final piece in the jigsaw to allow the £90,000 Play Park project to begin.

Burscough Cricket Club are using their grant to create a new picnic and play area adjacent to the Club which will be a welcome stopping point for people enjoying a walk on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath which runs past the Cricket Club.

Quarry Bank Community Association have been awarded £16,000 to create a fully accessible ‘Men’s Shed’ workshop in the grounds at the rear of the community building.

Up Holland Parish Council are using their grant to improve a stretch of footpath in the popular local woodland area of Dean Wood. Works will include drainage works and footpath repairs to make access easier throughout the year and reduce access problems caused by flooding.


This latest round of grants has taken the total awarded by the Whitemoss Community Fund since 2010 to £415,000 which has been shared between 34 local projects.

There is a single funding round each year. The deadline for applications this year has now closed and decisions will be announced shortly.

Click below to find out how to apply for a community project grant: