The Councils response to the odours

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06 Oct 2009
Dear Mr Hudson,

Swale BC have been monitoring this situation in Bapchild, and officers have responded to complaints. As yet, substantiated complaints have been limited, despite officers (and myself) attending on various occasions. Recently when i attended (on a friday evening) i made a point of speaking to the complainant (a Mr Palmer) and he agreed that there was no problem at the time, and the wind must have changed direction. He pointed out the stockpile of material in the field which he believed may be causing the problem. I inspected the material, and it was compost. However, even up close to the pile, the material was not excessively odourous.

However, we have witnessed odours from compost on two occasions in Bapchild. One of these was on a Saturday some weeks ago now (i believe it was bank holiday weekend in August), and the other was a mild odour yesterday. Both of these have coincided with spreading operations. When the material is being spread it may result in an odour (depending upon conditions), but this should not be persistent once the operation has been completed, and in other areas, this seems to be the case. It is unlikely that we would determine this to be a statutory nuisance.

This compost is recycled green waste from the Swale residents. It is processed here in Swale, and farmers are being encouraged to use it here in Swale. This process diverts a significant amount of waste from going to landfill, and it is argued that it also reduces the need to add inorganic materials and fertilisers to the land. The local authority, and the Environment Agency will be meeting with the producers of this material in the near future to review the process, and ascertain if there are any further measures that can be applied to reduce the impact of this material on residents.

During the current process, the compost is treated to an accreditted standard, which means that it is no longer a 'waste material' (previous materials spread in this area had not been treated to this same standard). This standard is called PAS 100. As this is no longer a waste, there are no requirements for registering stockpiles/ spreading. Both processes are legal, but the non PAS 100 material needs to be registered with the EA as it remains a waste. The legislation determining who deals with what can be complex - but in essence we work closely with the EA on these investigations.

Annual compost spreading is slightly different to other wastes such as sewage sludge and paper sludge as the likley risk of pollution from these materials is less. Compost may be spread as required (especially if it is not a waste).

I have since spoken to the farmers in this area, and they advised me that they have finished spreading operations for this year.

I hope this answers your questions, and i can assure you that we will continue to investigate.

Kind regards

Alister Andrews