Wiltshire Publications

Hills’ ‘gross disregard for Westbury’

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MAYOR Sheila Kimmins has hit out at Hills Waste Solutions for their ‘gross disregard for the town of Westbury’ over the stench coming from their Northacre plant.

Hills have apologised to local residents for the ‘odours’ but the mayor and other local people are not impressed. “What a pity it has taken Hills four months to acknowledge this has been a problem and that action needed to be taken,” said cllr Kimmins in a letter to the Environment Agency, adding that the ‘odours have not stopped.’

“This gross disregard for the town of Westbury only goes to confirm the contempt that Hills management has for us all,” she said. And she is questioning whether Hills can ‘competently manage’ the incinerator they are planning to build in the town. Hills issued a statement to White Horse News on 1st October saying they ‘deeply regret’ that the situation has not yet been resolved.

“We offer our sincerest apologies to the residents of Westbury who have been affected by the odours.,” the company said. “We would also like to reiterate that we are working constantly to try and resolve this situation as quickly as possible as we do not want to have a negative impact on the local community and our neighbours.”

Their statement is printed in full below. Fellow councillor Jane Russ – who was a town council representative at a meeting with Hills – is also not happy with the company’s attitude. Cllr Russ said, “Their line was, ‘this is unprecedented, it has never happened before and we were not expecting it to go on so long.

“When cllr Janet Parker, (who lives in Storridge Road) stated that she and many local people felt that their whole summer had been blighted by the relentless stench, the chairman of the meeting, Simon Allen, divisional director of Hills, replied that he didn’t think it had ruined the whole summer!! “Hills felt that by mentioning that they were going to replace the filters at the last liaison meeting at the beginning of June, that that was all they needed to do with regard to communicating with Westbury.

“I did ask Mr. Allen how he would feel if this had affected him and got no reply. I think that Westbury as a community should be compensated for this problem, it physically and mentally affected many people living to the north of the town.” Dan Dmaj of the WGAG – No Westbury Incinerator campaign group said, “Those suffering foul odours were promised an end and have been let down once too often (possibly a great deal more than that!) Suzanne Wickham, Wiltshire councillor for Ethandune says she will work with Hills and the Environment Agency ‘for as long as this odour is an issue for local residents.’ She said, “I have been contacted by lots of residents about the ongoing issue of the odour coming from the Hills plant in Westbury. I know how difficult this has been for many people in the Westbury area since this problem began in June this year.

“I recently attended a liaison meeting arranged by Hills Waste Solutions, and including the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council, to discuss the issue, where I outlined the complaints I have received from residents and the impact it is having on their lives. Hills apologised that residents are still being affected by odour from the site and explained that the biofilters have been changed, but that as it takes time for the active ingredients of the filter material to become effective; they have not yet fully resolved the issue.

“They cannot give a precise timeframe, but they expect the issue to be resolved as the filters become more efficient. They have also reduced the volume of waste being treated at the plant by around 25% whilst the biofilter medium continues to “seed” and the performance of the new filter is closely monitored.  “Hills have acknowledged that their contact with residents could have been more effective and have promised to review their communication strategy and to continue to work with local councillors to ensure the public are better informed of any ongoing issues. “The Environment Agency is continuing to monitor the situation, and it considers the recent levels of odour to still be a reasonable cause for annoyance.

“I will continue to work with both Hills and the Environment Agency for as long as this odour is an issue for local residents.” Westbury residents are also not happy. “The smell has been bad for the last few weeks,” said one. “There were a few days at the beginning of the month where I didn’t notice it. In the last fortnight it’s been awful. I had to close windows/doors otherwise the smell comes inside the house.” Other residents complained that they were able to smell the facility on Oldfield Road, near the railway station and in the Ham area. One mentioned that they “noticed the smell in Dilton Marsh every morning/ evening.”

Hills offer ‘sincere apologies’ Statement in full from Hill issued on the 1st October: “Representatives from Hills Waste Solutions met with members of the Northacre liaison committee this week to give an update on the actions being taken to minimise odours from the plant following the replacement of the bio-filters. “We are aware that, despite the change of the bio-filter material and the maintenance work on the plant, some residents continue to experience odours. The bio-filter is not yet working to maximum efficiency as quickly as we had understood it would.

“Hills is taking the following action to minimise odours:

• We are temporarily reducing the volume of waste that we will accept into the plant

• We are reducing the airflow speed through the bio-filter to allow the air to remain in contact with the bio-filter material for a greater period of time

• We continue to liaise with the technology suppliers of the plant and equipment to assist in managing and analysing the situation

• On their advice we have increased the amount of clean water put into the bio-filter which will improve the moisture content within the bio-filter media and provide better environmental conditions for the bio-filter to operate in.

“We deeply regret that the situation has not yet been resolved as we had anticipated. We offer our sincerest apologies to the residents of Westbury who have been affected by the odours. We would also like to reiterate that we are working constantly to try and resolve this situation as quickly as possible as we do not want to have a negative impact on the local community and our neighbours.

“Residents who experience odours can report these as follows: • Hills Waste Solutions: Using this link www.northacrerrc.co.uk/contact-us/ or by telephone on 01793 781207 • Environment Agency: Telephone 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours)”

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