Bosses behind a Leyland waste plant say the smells are back – and their solution is to hand out air fresheners to locals.
The £320m Farington Waste Technology Park, on Sustainability Way, has been plagued by controversy over smells emanating from it since the beginning of the year.
At a heated public meeting on Monday night, furious residents demanded action.
When asked by a member of the public how he would be compensated for money spent buying air fresheners such as Febreze, David Brewer, CEO of Global Renewables Lancashire, said he considering distribution cleaning products.
The resident, who lives on Windermere Avenue, said: “I spent £10 yesterday on Febreze in Tesco. Why should I have to spend that much money? When will I get compensated?
“Some people can’t even open their windows because of the smell. Something needs doing now.”
Mr Brewer said: “We will provide materials for cleaning purposes. We will make some materials and products available.
“We haven’t done it in the past because we thought it might attract as much negative publicity and positive, but we are willing and will talk to residents.
“What we don’t do it get into paying individual compensation.”
Speaking after the meeting, resident Joan Langford, who lives on Stanifield Lane, said: “This is just a joke. We were given assurances that we would not have problems with smells.
“Now we are being told we have to put up with it, or be given air fresheners to help until they can fix it.”
The problems reached a peak in early February when things got so bad the site had to reduce the amount of household waste coming in and divert it to landfill.
It was initially thought that the problems were down to a build up of ‘gunk’ in the chemical scrubbers that work with the plant’s bio-filters to organically break down smells, which are then released into the air.
But after yet more complaints from residents from Farington, Leyland, and wider South Ribble, the company says it is looking at plans to increase the height of five chimneys that release the air from 12m to 20m.
The earliest that work could be complete, if passed by planners, is March next year, sparking fury from residents.
Tim Carter, who lives on Bispham Avenue, said to Mr Brewer: “Do you really know what you are doing? We were told that this technology was tried, tested and fool proof.”
Mr Brewer said: “The design is that the air coming out of the stacks should be 300 times lower in terms of odour content by the time it reaches you than when it comes out of the stacks.
“The bio-filters are working close to design levels. The dispersion is not. The critical thing we will be undertaking is plans to extend stack heights and all our modelling suggests this will have a very significant effect on the air that reaches you.
“Our view at the moment is that we are not at a level which would justify us closing.”
Steve Scott, head of waste management at Lancashire County Council, said at the meeting: “We are totally and utterly bemused by the odour. It is important for us to get it solved across the board. I don’t think any odour at the moment is fair.
“We pay an absolute premium for this technology. We pay over the odds for this. The technology is such this should not happen. We aren’t happy about it in the slightest.
“The county council are definitely not accepting this and we will do everything in our power to stop this from happening.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “We would like to express disappointment that the community weren’t kept aware.
“GRL knew the problems were occurring again and we expected that you would keep the community informed. We would like to see improved communications.”
Plans to extend the plant’s five chimney stacks are likely to be submitted to South Ribble Council and Lancashire County Council on Thursday. Formal consultations on the plans will then take place.