Cambridge

This is why Waterbeach smells so bad

A recycling centre in Cambridgeshire has vowed to stop composting if the smell from their site gets too strong during the heatwave – with an odour monitoring officer checking the smell.

Since September last year, villagers have been complaining that an odour which smells like "putting your head into a bin" from AmeyCespa's Waste Management Park in Waterbeach has been making them feel ill.

The lingering smell from the site has previously affected a number of people, particularly those with asthma.

The company plant recycles domestic garden and kitchen waste produced in Cambridgeshire into quality soil improver, available free of charge for members of the public to take and use back in their gardens.

Residents of Waterbeach are concerned over Amey plant expansion plans, in particular plans for a huge incinerator, taller than Ely Cathedral. Picture: Keith Jones

The Environment Agency (EA) visited the 400-acre site on Ely Road in July last year, and confirmed that the company "needed to do more" to control odour emissions from the site.

People living or working near the recycling site claim that the smell has been worse over the last few weeks during the hot weather.

Concerned resident Jane Williams

Waterbeach resident Jane Williams said: “The smell has been really bad lately with the heatwave.

“Ive reported the smell to the Environment Agency and would encourage others to feel the same.

“Ive also heard the odour is very bad in Cottenham as well; I work there and people have been talking about it.

“The smell is just constant. It blocks my nose, affects my sinuses and makes me feel unwell.

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Another villager, who did not wish to be named, said others have been complaining about the smell and circulating the number to call to report the odour.

He said: “I dont want to go outside and sit in my garden because the smell makes me feel sick – but I should be able to enjoy going outside and living where I do.

“The action from AmeyCespa doesnt feel good enough, to be honest. Its not bad every day, but there are days when its truly awful.”

Residents claimed the smell was further exacerbated by a fire in August last year. There was also another fire at the site in 2013.

In 2016, AmeyCespa was fined £50,000 after its smell made nearby workers feel sick.

AmeyCespa's Waste Management Park (Image: Keith Jones)

The company was also ordered to pay £13,336 in costs after an employee at a nearby research park in Waterbeach was suddenly sick at work in July 2014.

Richard Banwell, who was prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told Cambridge Magistrates' Court that AmeyCespa had "failed to implement appropriate measures" to minimise odour emissions.

He added that there was a history of "noncompliance" at the site and there was a "serious effect" on human senses.

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Staff complained of feeling sick, gagging and sore eyes and throats.

The firm that the employee worked for had reported an increase in sickness rates and eventually gave up its lease on the property, at a large penalty cost, and relocated.

In response to recent complaints regarding the smell from the site over the last few weeks, a spokesman from AmeyCespa said: “During very hot weather our composting services can sometimes create an unpleasant odour.

“We recognise that this can be an issue for the local community, however, we have an odour management system in place to combat excessive odours.

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“This involves a trained Odour Monitoring Officer who checks 17 points across the Waterbeach site every day and then records the level of emission. We stop our composting immediately if she records a high level of odour.

“We have received calls from members of the community concerned about a strong smell and as a result, will cease composting if tests prove emissions are too high.

“We encourage people to report bad odours by contacting us on 01223 861010.”

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