Waste firm Associated Waste Management Ltd has been fined £125,000 for causing odour pollution at its sites in Leeds and Bradford.
The company was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on 6 March 2017 after previously admitting two environmental offences relating to its waste transfer facilities in Gelderd Road, Leeds and Canal Road, Bradford.
The Environment Agency prosecuted the company following repeated odour problems that had a detrimental effect on local residents.
Austin Stoton, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that AWM’s Leeds site caused repeated odour problems between June 2012 and October 2013. During this time, Environment Agency officers carried out around 75 odour assessments, and most of them recorded smells that were likely to cause offence to human senses.
In October 2013 the Environment Agency suspended the company’s permit for the Leeds facility, preventing it from bringing any more waste onto the site until it had made improvements to its odour management plan. This new plan was approved that month and the permit was reinstated.
In the same year, between March and July, AWM’s Bradford site was also the cause of odour issues. These prompted local residents to complain on 49 separate dates.
One resident had complained that the odour was so bad that it had made him feel sick. He also said that if there was a smell present, he couldn’t open windows and his family couldn’t spend time in the garden. Another resident said at the time that he and his family had found it virtually impossible to have any enjoyment from their garden.
An inspection visit in March 2013 revealed that the company was not closing the shutters on a tipping shed used by bin wagons, which allowed the smell of rotting waste to leave the site.
In July, the Environment Agency served an enforcement notice on the firm that required it to improve its odour management plan for the site. The company’s first revision of this document, submitted in August, was rejected as inadequate and it wasn’t until October that a new plan was approved.
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said after the hearing:
Waste sites like those managed by AWM can have a detrimental impact on local communities if they are not managed properly. That’s why it is vital that operators adhere to environmental regulations and the conditions on their environmental permits.
In this case, AWM failed to maintain high standards of odour management at its facilities in Leeds and Bradford, and local residents suffered as a result. We hope today’s outcome demonstrates that odour pollution is not acceptable and that the Environment Agency will take action against businesses that fail to adhere to permitting rules.
In mitigation, the company told the court that it had relied upon an external company that had approached it regarding odour suppression equipment, which had not worked.
AWM was fined £75,000 for the Leeds offence, and £50,000 for the Bradford offence. It was also ordered to pay £75,000 in legal costs.