Plymouth's Chelson Meadow tip restored to grassland

Image caption The rubbish tip was covered with 60,000 tonnes of topsoil

A former rubbish tip in Plymouth has been landscaped into an area of grassland with "rolling hills" covering an estimated 17,650,000 tonnes of landfill.

The 180-acre Chelson Meadow site closed in 2008 after 44 years.

Plymouth City Council said the work to revert the site to its natural state cost £18m.

It said the site would be "out of bounds" to the public for many years because of possible landfill leakages.

The work to return Chelson Meadow to grassland was a legal requirement by the Environment Agency.

It involved constructing underground walls around the site's boundary to prevent substances leaching out.

'Huge difference'

The council said these were up to 9m (26ft) deep in places and ran for almost 5km (3 miles) around the perimeter.

It also said there was enough landfill gas coming from the site to power six gas turbines which were generating energy to go back into the national grid.

The rubbish has been covered with several layers of protective membranes, 120,000 tonnes of sub-soil and 60,000 tonnes of seeded top soils.

Plymouth City Councillor Michael Leaves said the restoration of the site would "make a huge difference to the people who live nearby".

Image caption The former tip was next to Plymouth's historic Saltram House

"The way we get rid of waste has changed drastically over the last few decades. We all recognise that burying our waste is extremely damaging to the environment.

"It is also extremely expensive - to put a tonne of rubbish into the ground now costs around £120 and landfill tax is still increasing."

Plymouth's domestic waste is now compacted at Chelson Meadow before being transported to a landfill site at Liskeard in Cornwall.

There are also controversial plans to build an energy from waste plant across the city at Devonport.

The long-term plan for Chelson Meadow is for recreational use, possibly a country park.

The site is next to the National Trust's Grade 1 listed Saltram House and the old tip was seen as an eyesore to visitors there.

The meadow was originally used to graze cows before becoming a racecourse and then an aerodrome.

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