Toxic landfills: Map reveals which English counties are sitting on the most hazardous waste

By Jonathon Manning

There are thousands of landfill sites buried underground across the UK with hundreds containing material dangerous to human health.

According to research by energy comparison site, there are more than 1,200 landfill sites containing "hazardous waste" scattered across England and Wales.

These sites could potentially pose a health risk to the people and environment in the surrounding areas, according to the company.

With so many "toxic landfills" dotted around England, many people may not even know how close they live to these stores of waste - and many counties contain far more sites than others.

Data from the Government’s Environment Agency found that Greater Manchester has the highest number of toxic landfills in England, with 94 located within its boundaries.

Meanwhile, Rutland has no toxic landfill sites, while the Isle of Wight has just one. Herefordshire and Bristol also have a low number, with just two each.

The interactive map below shows how many toxic landfill sites are located in each English county.

But looking at just the number of landfill sites does not show the full picture. Using the data it is also possible to work out how the areas with the highest proportion of toxic landfills per km².

Sandwell in the West Midlands has the highest proportion of toxic landfills per km², with one site for every 6.11km².

The areas with the highest proportion of landfill sites are:

  • Sandwell, West Midlands - one toxic landfill per 6.11km² (14 landfills)
  • Walsall, West Midlands - one toxic landfill per 6.93km² (15 landfills)
  • Salford, Greater Manchester - one toxic landfill per 8.1km² (12 landfills)
  • Halton, Cheshire - one toxic landfill per 8.21km² (11 landfills)
  • Bolton, Greater Manchester - one toxic landfill per 9.32km² (15 landfills)
  • Barking and Dagenham, London - one toxic landfill per 9.45km² (four landfills)
  • Manchester, Greater Manchester - one toxic landfill per 9.64km² (12 landfills)
  • Three Rivers, Hertfordshire - one toxic landfill per 9.87km² (nine landfills)
  • Bury , Suffolk - one toxic landfill per 9.95km² (10 landfills)
  • Bexley, London - one toxic landfill per 10.72km² (six landfills)

Will Owen, energy expert at, said: “The shockingly high number of toxic landfills scattered across the country highlights the variety of problems these landfills can cause.

“It is down to the local authorities to help identify them and organise a clean-up. Some of these older landfills haven’t been lined before the waste was deposited, unlike modern landfills, which means that the chemicals can escape.

"With the added support and funding from the government, we will be able to stop any nasty surprises that could be coming our way.”

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