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Recycling: Odour Pollution

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what level of odours from green waste recycling centres his Department classifies as acceptable; and if he will make a statement. (141683)

The European waste framework directive (2006/12/EC) requires member states to ensure that waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health and without using process or methods which could harm the environment. This includes without causing a nuisance through odours.

The level of odour emission acceptable from green waste recycling centres depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the activity and the regulatory regime within which it operates and the proximity of those that may be affected. Where the activity is subject to a waste management licence, the prevention of odour may be imposed by way of conditions to that licence. This requirement may be monitored qualitatively or quantitatively by the operator and assessed by regulators on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty on local authorities to inspect their areas periodically to detect any statutory nuisances that may exist or are likely to occur or recur. There is also a duty to take reasonably practicable steps to investigate complaints of statutory nuisance. Odour may be considered as a statutory nuisance if it is considered to be

“any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance”.

Operations regulated through the waste management licensing system may still be subject to action against statutory nuisance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations have been received by (a) his Department and (b) the Environment Agency on concerns about odour from the Green Waste Recycling Centre in Haynes West End, Bedfordshire; and if he will make a statement. (141692)

I am not aware of any representations received by my Department on odour problems from this site. However, I understand that the Environment Agency (EA) has received in excess of 250 odour complaints about the site since December 2005.

The site operates under a waste management licence and is regularly inspected for compliance with the licence conditions by the EA. Sites operating under a waste management licence have an overarching requirement to recover or dispose of waste without causing harm to human health or pollution of the environment. This includes without causing a nuisance through noise or odour.

The EA have assessed all reported complaints, often in collaboration with the local authority environmental health officer, but only a few have been substantiated as being caused by failures on site. Where this is the case, action has been taken to bring about improvements to the company’s working procedures.