Petition calls for action over smell of manure

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15 Nov 2009
Andy Hudson with PetitionMore than 250 people have signed a petition urging Swale Council to take complaints about foul stenches in Bapchild seriously.

Andrew Hudson, chairman of Bapchild Parish Council, started the petition after residents complained they were forced to stay indoors during the August bank holiday weekend because the smell created by compost being spread on fields by local farmers was 'unpalatable’.

The stench was so bad that one female resident was physically sick because of it.

Residents were also subjected to the nauseous odour in July and two weekends on the trot at the beginning of October.

Mr Hudson wrote to Swale Borough Council’s environmental response manager, Alister Andrews, highlighting the number of complaints he has received about the issue.

But a letter from Mr Andrews said that the number of “substantiated complaints have been limited”.

Mr Hudson said: “People are unhappy with the situation. The smell lingers for a week.

“We just want Swale Borough Council to treat the problem with some seriousness.

“They say they’ve not had many complaints but I know that’s not true.

“We know the farmers have to do it but starting it on a Saturday morning and on a Bank Holiday weekend is not the best time. Residents wanted to eat outside or have a barbecue.

“I can’t tell you the number of people who had to cancel their plans because of the stench.

“This year the smell was beyond a joke and for all we know we might have the same problem all over again next year.

“I’ll present the petition to the council when I’ve got a sufficient number of signatures. “

Council response:

Alister Andrews, Swale Borough Council’s environmental response manager, said: “The smell that Mr Hudson is referring to was caused by the spreading/stockpiling of treated compost (ie green garden waste) by local farmers.

“This is obviously a recognised agricultural practice and diverts significant amounts of waste products from landfill, and reduces the need to spread inorganic products on the land.

"Products of this nature undergo a thorough treatment process, and these particular products had been treated to a recognised national standard.

“These activities should be encouraged as they are green and effective solutions.

"While the compost is being spread, or when a new stockpile of compost is being produced, on occasions an odour has been detected by council officers, but shortly after the spreading has stopped and it is incorporated into the soil the odour has subsided very quickly.

"We have been assured by the farmer that the compost spreading activities in this area are completed for this calendar year.”

He added that the council had only received a handful of complaints and worked closely with the Environment Agency.

Officers will continue to monitor the situation. 

by Hayley Robinson published in the Kent Messenger