Suffolk composting firm fined £20,000 for 'foul smells'

image captionEnvironment Agency images of County Mulch's composting site were shown to the court

A composting site operator has been fined £20,000 for allowing a smell like diarrhoea to affect nearby residents.

County Mulch, Suffolk, pleaded guilty at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court to failing to comply with an environmental permit.

The company was fined £20,000, following the Environment Agency prosecution, and ordered to pay costs at the hearing on Thursday.

The offence occurred between 10 August 2009 and 5 February 2010.

Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that witnesses had been driven indoors by the smells.

One woman who lived two miles away claimed the smell spoiled her daily life and made her stomach turn over.

Paul Sheridan, solicitor for County Mulch, said the company had taken measures to prevent odours and had produced odour management plans at the time of the offence.

He added that the management and shareholders of the company had now changed.

'Smell of vomit'

When Environment Agency officers visited the site they described a "strong, diarrhoea foul rotting smell" coming from one corner of the industrial estate.

They also noted a "strong smell of vomit" and "an odorous dark brown liquid, smelling like dog excrement".

An officer observed that some of the waste on the site was old and decomposing and had been there for too long.

Environment Agency officer Tim Wojcik said: "Companies such as County Mulch perform an important role in diverting waste from landfills but still have a responsibility to operate in a way that does not impact negatively on their neighbours.

"Significant changes have occurred within the company management and on the site in an attempt to improve odour control. The Environment Agency is continuing to work with the company."

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