Mushroom compost-making plants such as that in my hon. Friend’s constituency require a permit under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 and local authorities are responsible for enforcing compliance. DEFRA also issues statutory guidance on best available techniques in order to minimise air emissions, including odour.
As well as the loss of quality of life in the surrounding houses from the stink from mushroom composting, is the Minister aware of emerging evidence of problems with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a killer disease, caused by people breathing in the spores? Is it not time that action were taken to close down Tunnel Tech in my constituency?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his hard work and conscientiousness in bringing this issue to my and my predecessor’s attention. The Health Protection Agency is, as of today, investigating the prevalence of COPD in the locality where he has identified concerns. Further, the agency will also investigate the potential for the composting operation to cause or exacerbate COPD. Those investigations will be in consultation with the local primary care trust and I understand that the local council has already made contact with the HPA.