Wiltshire Publications

Smell from Hills is no longer a ‘reasonable cause for annoyance’ says Env.t Agency

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THE Environment Agency says ‘no further action is required’ over the Hills smell which has permeated the town for months. 

The Environment Agency (EA) also said in reply to a letter of complaint from Westbury’s mayor, cllr Sheila Kimmins, that there is ‘no reasonable cause for annoyance’ over the Hills company smell. Town councillor, Jane Russ, described the EA’s comments as ‘disappointing’ but ‘not surprising’, at a meeting held last week. 

The smell was found to be caused by a faulty biofilter in the Hills Northacre Resource Recovery Centre (NRRC), which began during the summer months when residents complained that they were unable to sit outside. Just recently, town councillors have urged residents to continue making complaints about the smell, which local people said they were still experiencing. The EA said they were not receiving a high volume of complaints and the agency said that no further sanctions against the company was necessary.  

 Cllr Kimmins had written to Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, James Bevan, and she received a reply from the Area Director, Wessex, Emma Baker, who said she was replying on behalf of James Bevan. Emma Baker wrote, “At the time of writing to you, the number of odour complaints have reduced significantly, and we do continue to have own officers’ out on a proactive monitoring patrol of the area and while they have reported some odour, it would not be considered strong enough to be a breach of the permit conditions.” 

Hills NRRC was handed an enforcement notice on 4th August that required them to replace the media in their bio-filters and the company subsequently complied. After the EA continued to receive complaints over the smell, Hills discovered other maintenance issues and agreed to suspend waste inputs into the site for two weeks during mid-September whilst continuing to process existing waste. 

The EA said they noticed a “significant improvement in odour away from the site and in residential areas and so allowed Hills to resume waste inputs on 20th September 2021.” 

The reintroduction of waste inputs led to more odour complaints. This then led to an investigation by Hills, in which they found that the bio-filter may not have been wet enough to encourage growth. 

In conclusion, Emma Baker from the EA wrote, “I hope this reassures you that this matter still remains a high priority for the Environment Agency and we are continuing to work with the company to get the levels of odour back to how they were at the beginning of the year.” 

• MAYOR of Westbury, cllr Sheila Kimmins has urged residents to keep filing reports to the Environment Agency (EA) over the smell that leaked from Hills Northacre Resource Recovery Centre as a result of a faulty biofilter. 

The EA’s instant hotline can be contacted through email on enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk and on the phone at 0800 80 70 60 (select option 1). The process to make a report can take about ten minutes. 

To make a report to the EA, residents must: 1. Note the name and address of where the smell is originating from; for example, Hills Waste Solutions. 2. The time and date you noticed the smell. 3. A description of the smell. 4. A rating of the smell on a scale of 1-6 (where 1 is barely noticeable and 6 would be intolerable). 5. The weather conditions when you smelt it. 6. How far away you live from the origin of the smell. 7. If the smell is detectable in your house with the windows and doors closed. 8. A general history of how long you believe the smell has been occurring. 9 Your contact address and phone number.