Mexborough and Swinton Times July 28, 1917
Conisborough Refuse Tip
GC Railway Complain of Nuisance
An Interim Arrangement
The case of the Great Central Railway Company against Doncaster Rural District Council was mentioned to Mr Justice Astbury in the Chancery Division, on Wednesday, when in view of the diminishing chance of the action been tried this term application was made for the purpose of making arrangements over the Long Vacation.
Mr Leslie Scott K.C., for the plaintiff, said the case was one of considerable urgency from the point of public health, and from the point of view of the plaintiffs was an exceedingly serious matter that the case should go over the Long Vacation. But he understood from the point of the other engagements of His Majesty’s judges it was difficult to avoid the result.
Mr Russell, on behalf of the defendant, was willing to give him undertaking for the purpose of dealing with what the plaintiff said was a nuisance endangering public health. Mr Russell was instructed say that it was not a nuisance, and he (Mr Scott) was prepared to concede that in the undertaking he would give he should state at the beginning of it that there was no nuisance. But from the point of your public health it was important that during the hot weather something should be done which would prevent any ill results.
It was a question of tip refuse from privies, which obviously was offensive in character and likely to lead to trouble from the sanitary point of view unless adequate measures were taken to deal with it. The medical officers advising the plaintiff said that it was absolutely essential that the refuse should be covered with at least 12 inches of soil. The defendants were prepared to cover it with 6 inches. Plaintiffs were told that that was quite ineffective from the sanitary point of view. In order to meet the defendants he suggested that they should cover the refuse with 12 inches.
His Lordship: You mean at once?
Mr Russell: We have covered it all along, varying in depth from 6 to 12 inches.
Mr Scott said it was a large area; over 200 tons of this refuse were tipped weekly on this spoiled bank adjoining plaintiff station and quite near to the stationmaster’s office, and there were many houses alongside. The plaintiffs were right in saying that it was a very serious nuisance, the necessary measures for its removal were a burden lying on the defendants. But if they were right that this charming deposit was not a nuisance, then obviously the burden of dealing with it was plaintiffs.
He suggested that the defendants should cover the deposit with 12 inches, which the plaintiff said was the minimum necessary, and that the difference of cost between six and 12 inches to remain in suspense be dealt with as part of the costs of the action. Defendants had nowhere else to tip refuse, and plaintiffs recognise that they must have someplace to tip it, and they were prepared to let them go on tipping provided they did it between 12 midnight and six in the morning, and keeping only a very small working face open, and covering that next day with 12 inches of soil.
Mr Russell, K.C., for the defendant said his learning friend was not entitled to ask any indulgence at all; but his clients, had told the plaintiffs what they were willing to do. There was no nuisance at all.
Mr Scott said he was sure his friend would be reasonable. If plaintiffs offered to pay the 12 inches of soil, in the event of the Court deciding they were wrong, obviously they could not be prejudiced by any such arrangement as he suggested.
Mr Russell said he was not prepared to do more than he had offered. While denying that any nuisance existed he undertook to do all that was reasonably necessary to prevent any nuisance arising. He was prepared to take for the defendants that they would cover up the tape was sold to a depth not less than 6 inches.
His Lordship: Mr Scott, you cannot get more than that. The undertaking will state that the defendants say the tip is covered with 6 inches of soil, and the undertake, pending the hearing, to cover each day the last lot of tipping was 6 inches of earth and keep the rest of the tip covered with 6 inches. Mr Scott, you better take the 6 inches rather than nothing.
Mr Scott: And liberty to apply to the vacation judge if so advice?
Mr Russell: My undertaking contains that.
Mr Scott: In one sense I am not at all satisfied, because I don’t think it is enough; in another sense I’m satisfied, because I think it is all I can get. (Laughter).
It was arranged that his Lordship should try the action on October 17. Mr Scott assured his Lordship that the case ought to be disposed of in two days.