High Moor landfill sits serene after landscape transformation

IT was one of the most reviled landfill sites in Oldham with sustained campaigns by residents demanding its closure.

But now High Moor landfill at Scouthead sits serene in 29 rolling acres of meadow grass revealing nothing of the bitter angst surrounding its past.

The stones which form a compass at High Moor which can be seen from the air

Waste disposal giant Veolia Environmental Services (VES) have painstakingly installed grassland vistas, benches and pathways to transform the site.

There is even a giant stone compass which can be seen on Google maps and from the air by passengers on Manchester Airport routes.

An old High Moor landfill entrance stone has been turned innovatively into a bench to take in the view of Delph from one of the highest points on site.

And its sister stone has been erected on Thorpe Lane and the bench is used on a regular basis by the public.

The site closed on December 31, 2013, ending the delivery of household and commercial waste to 150ft deep site.

At the time, a senior VES spokesperson pledged: “We are committed to operating in line with the waste hierarchy by prioritising prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery and our landfill void is less than that of our major competitors.”

They appointed trouble shooter John Molyneux, their Regional Aftercare Manager, to supervise major improvements at the site.

He said: “Environmental and aftercare work to recreate a natural habitat for birds including twites and other moorland wildlife at High Moor is on track.

“We have used some of the quarry’s block stones to create a compass feature, as well as using the original entrance stones to create a well-used public seat area on Thorpe Road.

The handmade bench

“We will continue to manage the site restoration and bring it back to nature.”

Cllr Rob Knotts, chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, was one of the public inspection team brought to monitor progress during the latter stages of the tip operation.

He said: “I’m very impressed by the transformation from a garbage-filled hole in the ground to a nicely landscaped area.

“My congratulations to John Molyneux and Veolia for turning an eyesore into a picturesque feature.”

Joan Sykes, chair of Scouthead and Austerlands Community Association, added: “It’s a big improvement and no longer an eyesore.”

But there are still salutary reminders of the landfill’s history, with a gas collection well performing part of the monitoring and aftercare of the site.

“We use the gas to produce electricity for the local grid,” explained VES.

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