Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Vile Stench of Composting Over Howdenshire Villages


Many people will have noticed the vile stench that is drifting over some Howdenshire villages, and has done for a while now. It appears that a small section of the East Riding is being blighted by the cumulative impact of 'so called' composters operating in and around Holme on Spalding Moor, Spaldington, Wressle and Brind.

A number of farmers operating around this cluster of Howdenshire Villages are taking in commercial waste to turn into ‘so-called’ compost. This process is in my view dangerous in the fact that animal by-products are being brought into the area from ‘who knows where’. Since the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, which was blamed on contaminated meat in unboiled pig-swill, and in view of recent incidences of Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, and again foot and mouth, this unchecked movement of animal by-products is very worrying.

The ingredients used include; salad waste, feathers, egg shells (or hatchery waste), and wood chippings which are composted in sheds to a temperature hot enough to supposedly kill off dangerous bugs. The composted materials are then stored out in the open on maturation heaps, before being spread on the land and ploughed in during the planting season. A recent planning application saw a request to increase the ingredients to include; starch products, beef burgers, fleece trimmings, pet food by-products, bakery products (including pizza), tannery scrapings, prawn shells and sewage sludge.

I feel the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has given planning permission for composting assuming that this is a positive step in reducing landfill - although some people are saying in reality this process is more or less the same as landfill but spread only 9" deep. I don't think the Council realised exactly what the impact on communities was going to be, with some of the vilest smells now being produced by composters, and endured by residents.

The question of inspection, regulation and enforcement of composting is very confusing to many. The approval of premises to process and handle animal by products is granted by Animal Health, an agency of DEFRA. Other aspects of the whole process are dealt with by the Environment Agency and yet further aspects are considered by the Council. This is disjointed and wholly inadequate and I think a much more united and robust policing system is required.

Meanwhile, I think we must start to make the farmers tell us more about what is supposed to happen, especially the range of material composted and particularly the geographic origin, the storage of this so-called compost, and the days of spreading - so a different regime of enforcement can be applied.

I have requested the 'regulation of the composting industry' be looked into by ERYC Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This is to happen early in the New Year.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

The STRICT Animal By Products Regulations, which are upheld by all the genuine composters, are being grossly abused and it is an outrage that it is being allowed to take place by people in authority who turn a blind eye thinking that they are contributing to the decrease in landfill. . Villagers are scared of repercussions from the perpetrators. Why isn't someone in authority dealing with this horrendous situation. I cannot believe how the law is being so blatantly flouted at this time of increasing awareness of the causes of pollution and disease. At least our council should have the power to take action on their behalf, as obviously the protests of the ordinary villagers has no effect. This battle is raging far too long and needs dealing with URGENTLY. Someone needs to get the first hand reports from the villagers and take the offenders to court for breaking the law.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to believe that following the foot and mount outbreak 5 years ago linked with a swill feeder in Northumberland, that DEFRA and the STATE VETERINARY SERVICE have not learnt their lesson in regulating proper food waste disposal. The local cowboy composters are opperating effectivley unregulated and putting food waste and animal bi products onto farm land. Not only are they creating misery to local residents generating the foul stench, but they are also setting up the next animal disease outbreak disaster. One of the farmer/ food waste processors in the area has even got his own cattle wandering about around in the field where he has the heaps of waste. It is a sad fact that elements of government and local government see this form of disposal as being an appropriate alternative to landfill? They even refer to this activity as 'GREEN'- a more appropriate term would be 'GREED' by the out of control operators of these sites.

Anonymous said...

The impact of the composters on the quality of life of local people has been appaling. The Environment Agency, Environmental Health and the Planning Department at ERYC take no action to protect us even when there have been clear breaches of the rules and planning conditions. Well done Paul for taking up this isue!

Anonymous said...

I generally go for a jog around the village of Spaldington, I had to turn back this morning as the stench was unbearable. It smells to me as if the offending spreader is mixing natural manure with something else the smell is pungent and sweet

J & DI said...

Vile Composting Stenches are also down here in Devon at Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot, friend Jo & family at Sandygate & living closer to the Viridor Composting plant, were the first to realise that fresh fruit & vegetables are going off much quicker in our homes than we are used to. Six months later Jane & living furthest away at Ogwell has also realised the same mentioned, & also found out that a famous supermarket chain actually employs someone especially to keep going around checking out all the fresh produce hourly, & worryingly enough it goes off that much quicker than any of their other stores outside the area!!!
Neighbours then noticed much more fungal problems outside in their gardens i.e. favourite annuals turning brown tops of trees & shrubs dying etc & gardeners outside the area were not having the same problem!
At first I thought they were all completely mad. But all this soon became even more noticeable to us.
& those stinking Composting stenches are causing repeated ill health; extremely painful headaches over right eyebrow, dry throats nose & ears, extremely dry sore eyes & itchy skin becomes apparent when composting is being moved about.
Evan more worrying to us these uncontrolled stenches are strong enough to knock down & kill 80% of my animals & more worrying news is that another person has lost 50 sheep.
We are reliably informed that it may be being caused from mycotoxin poisoning due to the release of fungal spores.

We are constantly having your same vile stench Problems from Viridor Heathfield because this Composting plant is incorrectly constructed, the set up is outside windrows & not in vessel as we all had thought it should have been, & that the Devon County Council planning had supposedly promised.

Exceptionally strong stenches must be wind blown into our homes & are capable of repeatedly shaking us awake in our beds, we have often complained about this to the Environment Agency. We almost feel as if we are serving a Life sentence from the rancid smells of squalor, & a friend calls Viridor Composting the Maggot Factory because we all notice fly problems all –through –year.
Thanks Paul for starting this blog & we send you our Commiserations as fellow sufferers.
We now wonder how many others are also suffering like us!
J & DI

Spaldington resident said...

Since this waste composting started, the quality of life in Spaldington has completely changed. If the wind is coming from the direction of the compost farms, you can’t have your windows open, if you hang washing out it picks up the smell, you cannot sit out in your garden or eat outside. Whatever you want to do outside is ruined. Children can’t play outside without feeling sick and their friends don’t want to visit any more because of the horrible smell. People are scared of inviting relatives to stay in case the wind is coming from the compost heaps. There has been a pig farm in the village for 30 years and we have never had any problems with smells from that. Living in the country, people accept normal farmyard smells, but this is NOT normal, this is foul! People used to enjoy walking their dogs but when the wind is blowing from the compost heaps with the smell, it is horrible now.
People have tried to tell the Environment Agency, Environmental Health and the planners when things are bad or if they see the current planning conditions being ignored, but all that seems to happen is that WE are ignored.
Do WE not have a right to clean air and an unpolluted environment in which to live anymore?

Worried smallholder said...

The vile stench is the most obvious problem to local people, but what are the biosecurity and animal health implications of this waste composting industry? It is stated in EU documents that there is a serious risk of the transmission of bird-flu on feathers. Feathers make up a major part of the waste composted around here – they are still clearly recognisable in the field heaps of compost which supposedly have been through the required “process”. Wild birds and rats scavenge on the compost heaps in the fields and carry compost material into the surrounding countryside. Many people in Spaldington keep a few hens and planning permission has just been granted for a large free-range hen business in a field only 300m from one of the compost heap fields. We have got a bird-flu epidemic waiting to happen here!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a load or two of cow muck is mixed in with compost during the spreading of stinking stinking waste compost. Then if anyone complains about the smell they get told "bull shit"!
But the regulatory authorities believe it is just cow muck so do not count it as a waste compost spreading day so we have to endure more days of spreading the foul stuff and we have to suffer the stench for even longer.
This waste composting should not be allowed on any farm which keeps animals.

Anonymous said...

Everybody is talking about the stench, but no-one has yet mentioned the rats. The compost heaps are peppered with rat holes, and now the heaps are being spread all the rats have come across the fields and into my garden. Our place is now crawling with rats nearly as bad as you see at night in the lane outside the compost barns. I don’t want to put poison down because of the risk to owls and other animals. We were trying to shoot the rats from the bedroom windows, but the stench from the compost spreading is now so bad we can’t have the windows open! Flies have also got bad these last few weeks since the compost spreading started. What diseases are the flies and rats bringing from the waste compost into my home and garden?

Paul Robinson said...

Thankyou all for the comments - it is very interesting to see the increase in hits/traffic on my blog since I posted this item...which is approaching 4 times the norm... Some of the comments cannot be published because they border on the libelous, therefore please bear this in mind. Also I know that the comments are from different readers although they are anonymous. We have to be careful that this is not perceived as being a which hunt by faceless people, therefore I would appreciate if you can sign your comments if you feel able.

Anonymous said...

Paul, most of the comments are anonymous because people are wary of retribution from the composters and officialdom. You will know that this is already happening.

A Spaldington Resident said...

I, like all the other people who have contributed to the site will not leave my name because I feel unsure about the possible repercussions. Sorry Paul, but that is how bad things have got round here.

There are FOUR government agencies involved here - the State Vets, DEFRA, the Environment Agency and Trading Standards - all completely useless and totally unwilling to do anything. When we complain they just pass the buck on to someone else. This scandal needs exposing and at last it is getting into the public domain. Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

I am so worried about the health and pollution aspect of this awful situation not only as a local resident but as a parent. The smells are vile - even in my 10 year old daughter's bedroom two mornings ago - the flies are bad again now that they are spreading and we have more rats than usual (we do have a pest controller who visits regularly but he is putting more traps down than ever before). We just want to get on with our lives but we can't because one or two people are so greedy they will cut as many corners as possible in order to make as much money as they can -even if it means blatantly breaking the law. Please don't be fooled - this is not about making our planet 'greener' nor about improving the environment by recycling - it is ABOUT PROFIT. There are FOUR major players in this whole debacle - all of whom can and should be doing something to at least police and regulate the industry. They are DEFRA, the State Veterinary Service, the Environment Agency and Trading Standards. They are doing NOTHING -despite local people and their ever more desparate pleas for help they are turning their backs on us because it suits them (dare I be so bold as to suggest there could be political motivations here?). You would not believe some of the conversations myself and other people have had with the various departments involved - all to no avail. I will also add that I am not prepared to leave my name because of the very real fear of retribution. However, I am so pleased that you have written this in your blog Paul, because it is inspiring more and more people to take a stand - this scandal needed to be exposed. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone actually tried talking to the Composters about the problems rather then shouting at them all the time and complaining behind their backs. Maybe you should take a leaf out of Holme on Spalding Moors book and form a joint liason committee made up of Parish Councillors, Composters and residents. Composting is the way forward, but only if it is do correctly. Remember the saying "It is better to jaw, Jaw, Jaw then to War, War, War. "

Paul Robinson said...

Composting, if done correctly is certainly a way forward - but the type of composting we're talking about here does not produce the stuff you run through your fingers when planting in the garden.

The HOSM liason group is certainly a positive step but this only deals with the Gallymoor site which is owned by the ERYC and run by the Councils partner - WRG. The proposed composting facility on this site will be somewhat different to what we are seeing around Howdenshire Villages. The emmissions will certainly be easier to control from this site.

As part of the planning process I asked for a specific condition where WRG produce a detailed method statement to deal with the storage and spreading of the compost - this is awaited prior to the composting facility being constructed. This method statement can then be perhaps the most important part of the monitoring, regulation and enforcement of the facility.

Importantly the Gallymoor composting facility is to be limited to only taking waste from Hull and the East Riding.

It is thought that the Gallymoor site may will set the benchmark for other so called composters to aspire to - this includedes the setting up of the liason group by ERYC and WRG, a positive step in consultation.

Alec Wild said...

The so called on-farm composting sites are not producing compost.It is sanitised waste,the process used is regulation 1774/2002 of the EU regulations of animal by-products.I have for many years asked the so called regulators of the industry to clarify what compost is,they clearly stated on all occasions their is no clear definition.The following is a passage from the 1774/2002 regulation,

The regulations require that the time/tempature parametere are achieved as PART of the composting procedure.A composting plant is defined in EU reulations as a "plant in which biological degradation of products of animal origin is under taken under aerobic conditions",thus the plant must be producing compost in order to gain approval,i.e. an operator could not seek approval of a plant solely on the basis that it heated the waste to the required parameters.The requirements for a closed composting reactor pre-supposes that the feedstock will under go biological degradation while in vessle,as well as achieving the time/temperature requirements.
with regards to the above not one composting company in the area using 1774/2002 regulations are producing compost.
It is about time the so called regulators were brought to task and a public enquiry asked for to safe guard HUMAN HEALTH,ANIMAL HEALTH and the HEALTH OF THE ENVIRONMENT.Not only for Spaldington but for the whole of ENGLAND.

Anonymous said...

As well as composting, are the local people aware what is going on at a farm on the outskirts of HOSM, where I believe they are treating avian bi-products and blood to turn that into 'organic' products to spread on the land. They also have a tank for the storage of the blood. Unfortunately unless people are bothered by the foul stench which comes from that property then they are unaware of this - how is that then for the spread of disease? Unfortunately at the moment the envioroment agency and the enviromental health seem to have no control over this site and keep saying to complain to the other. We keep being told that there are regulations that are going to be put in place soon, but as a resident of HOSM we are fed up hearing this.
As for the Gallymoor Site despite the Liason Group the place is still a 'tip' with rubbish on the verges constantly and there seems to be little control of the wagons going in and out and not being covered up proprly. 2 local fishing ponds seem to be a run with rats acording to the fishermen - pest control does not seem a priority. I think the liason group is as far as the council is concerned is just a publicity stunt!!!
What we all would like to know is where is our local MP on all this ?

robert said...

Dear Mr Robinson.
I am an observer from Devon who is very concerned at meat composting in general and on livestock farm in particular. Your readers may not be aware that there is an EU standard for composting and this should be totally 'in vessel'. The Uk Government has received a derogation for a lower Uk standard which allows composting of meat in outside windrows. I am strongly of the opinion that the UK standard should be withdrawn. The Uk standard is cheaper but the risks are mind boggling. There is a serious risk of FMD, swine fever or avian flu escaping. Councillor Robinson, will you give an undertaking that the composting plant that your Council is about to build will not incorporate any outside windrowing? Will you also give an undertaking that the plant to be built by your Council will be totally enclosed and operate at negative air pressure with the extracted air being chemically scrubbed? This is the only safe system. This system prevents foul smells escaping. It also prevents the escape of fungal spores such as aspergillus (Causes farmers lung). Your readers may be interested to know that the Environment Agency has a statutory responsibility to ensure that aspergillus spores do not reach sensitive receptors (ie humans and animals). The totally enclosed systems (There is a new one in Suffolk)also prevent wild birds and rats from accessing the material. I am pleased to see a Councillor raising this very serious issue but it is important that the local Council does not build a cheap and nasty composting plant.

stunk-out at Spaldington said...

A delivery driver arrived at our place in Spaldington on Friday, saying "How on earth do you live here in this dreadful smell? Is it a maggot factory at the water tower which smells so appalling?"
If ordinary visitors think that the smell is bad enough to come from a maggot factory, why is it that Public Protection and the Environment Agency who are supposed to monitor the odour emissions never find the stench bad enough to record a "statutory nuisance"?

Anonymous said...

Sunday: I put my washing out on the line this morning (the first day this week there has been no smell from the composting). I went out for the day. I came home this evening – there was a horrible smell of waste compost in the air –I went to get my washing from the line and it STINKS!! How many more times have I got to redo my washing because it has been polluted by the compost stench? I have not got a tumble drier – I try to save energy and rely on clean country air to dry my clothes….?
The planning conditions say compost should only be spread from Monday to Thursday with a maximum of 10 days per year. After spreading, the compost must be ploughed in straight away to reduce the smell. But they never cover up the compost heaps which have been opened up during the previous weeks spreading. The compost left in these heaps carries on stinking for weeks. They also bring the stinking waste from the farm building out to the compost heaps in the fields over weekends. Every time any of the waste compost is moved there is an odour problem, which persists long after it is tipped. Over the year the compost heaps are a much greater source of odours than the spreading operation, and as they are continually being added to, the stench never goes away. There needs to be a regulation requiring that the heaps are always covered up with an odour-impermeable material at the end of each day, and that there is no transport of compost to the heaps outside of Monday to Thursday 9am – 4pm as for the spreading. There also needs to be a limit on how many days compost can be tipped at the field heaps. Ideally these field compost heaps should be banned.
Why can ERYC not insist that the compost is stored in enclosed barns with proper odour control and extraction filters?

Anonymous said...

We are all aware of the stench, but what about all the bugs and spores that could be in the air coming out of this waste compost?
It smells so vile, it must be full of bacteria and fungal diseases. Is it safe to breathe the air around our own homes?
What are we and our children likely to catch from this obnoxious practice?

Stunk Out from Howdenshire said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am sick and tired of ringing the Environment Agency's hotline to complain about foul smells (usually OUTSIDE the agreed composting windows at weekends and in the early morning)- and being told that someone will ring me back with an update on the situation then nothing whatever happens. Have we become invisible in Spaldington? Or are we such a nuisance that they are trying to forget that we actually exist?

Anonymous said...

Re. Regulation or the lack of it.

That all needed to be said. We have suffered the scandal of whitewashing from the responsible bodies for far too long. Just what is going on?

Well done to both "Stunk Out" and Paul. That post just had to be anonymous!

Anonymous said...

DEFRAs website www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/wastefood/compost-qanda.htm says that due to the risk of transmission of diseases such as Foot & Mouth and Classical Swine Fever, a farm which keeps livestock should not compost animal by-products (which includes feathers and eggshells) or food waste. If I keep just one pet pig I am not allowed to make my own compost!
How come there are over 100 cattle in the fields surrounding the compost shed at Ivy House Farm?
How come some of the waste compost heaps are in the same grass fields that the cattle are grazing – with only a single strand wire electric fence separating the animals from the decomposing waste feathers and other rotting rubbish?
How come ERYC planning department recommended that Mr Ashton should be allowed to compost food waste?
How come ERYC Public Protection and the Environment Agency officials did not object to the composting of animal by-products and food waste on this livestock farm? The Animal By-Product Regulations 2005 No 2347 Part 3 paragraph 11(2) states that “Any person who brings any catering waste or other animal by-product on to any premises where any livestock is kept is guilty of an offence”. This is an illegal operation!

A very angry Spaldington resident said...

This weekend (20th October) has been awful. The stench has been vile and in every room of our house. New windrows have been created in a different field and these heaps are white with chicken feathers. Foul stinking loads of heaven knows what are being delivered to a local farm in the early evenings. What is going on?

Despite all of this the Environment Agency still appear to be doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the problem - they don't return calls and never make any attempt to talk to the residents who have so many concerns.

Paul Robinson said...

I have tabled the following Motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Full Council meeting to be held on Wednesday 14 November 2007
...................................

That this Council –

Asks the Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee to look at a review of the agricultural composting industry as a matter of urgency and how this affects the East Riding in particular. The review should include the monitoring and regulation of the processes, especially the range of material composted, the geographic origin, the storage, and the days and methods of spreading.

...................................

This should have the effect of bringing forward the review to look into this diabolical situation

Anonymous said...

Well done the Yorkshire Post for highlighting this issue let's hope East Riding follow the Scottish Example and prevent this disease disaster which is waiting to happen

Anonymous said...

The most worrying thing with the waste composting is that it is being carried out on a farm which keeps livestock. There are huge heaps of partially rotted feathers, hatchery waste, wood chip and pet food waste in the fields, with cattle grazing to within a few feet of the heaps, separated by only a strand of electric fence wire. The effluent from the heaps runs out into the field beyond the fence so the cattle can drink it. There is nothing to stop birds and wild animals taking bits of the rotting waste from the heaps and dropping them in the fields with the cattle. The heaps are crawling with rats and flies. Nothing is known of the origins of the feathers and other meat products which are being composted here, and there is a real fear among other farmers and local people of diseases such as Bird Flu, Foot and Mouth, B.S.E. and Swine Fever arising from this waste.
The scene does nothing to enhance the image of farmers as guardians of the countryside, let alone the message of quality and safe British meat. It is imperative for the reputation of this country’s meat industry that the potentially disastrous policy of allowing waste composting on farms is stopped immediately throughout the UK.

Local Agronomist said...

It is well known that putting farmyard manure onto land adds organic matter and nutrients, but this is of most benefit on light sandy soils. The soil in the fields around Spaldington is heavy silty clay. Many of the fields were until recently, or still are, grassland and therefore have high levels of natural organic matter and there is little benefit in adding any more in waste compost. The quantities of compost which are being spread are far in excess of what is needed to provide nutrients for any crops sown. The land gets so wet here in winter that last year many of the fields did not have any crop sown on them following application of the compost, and in the one field where winter wheat was sown, there was so much nitrogen that the crop fell over even before the ears emerged. All the excess nutrients leached into the field drains and then polluted the water in the ditches draining the fields. The ditches around here all flow to the River Foulness – how high are the nitrate and phosphate levels in this and are any other substances in the effluent from the compost polluting the river? There were otters and water voles amongst the wildlife which lived in this river. But for how much longer?

Anonymous said...

Although the H O S M committee are liasing with the composters (this is a step in the right direction) there is a very nasty smell which still comes to the village.
This is not acceptable and more does need to be done,maybe at a higher level.
These are not "country smells" but disgusting smells which our visiting family questioned "how could we live with that stench ?"

Please everybody don't drop this complaint until we get our fresh country air back!

Outraged said...

December 22nd
I almost don't believe this but Ivy House Farm is tipping fresh, stinking, waste on his maturation heap just in time for Christmas. If you suffer the stench please do not hesitate to 'phone the Environment Agency on the usual numbers, even on the 25th.
Environment Agency Incident Line0800 807060 - manned 24/7

stunk out at Spaldington said...

December 23rd 2007
This is outrageous! It’s Christmas, we have relations coming to stay and it absolutely stinks outside. How are we expected to live in Spaldington with this waste composting going on? Ivy House Farm were taking waste from the barn and tipping it in a field yesterday – the weather is calm and foggy, the stench just hangs over the area. They are not supposed to spread waste on the fields on Fridays, weekends and bank holidays – how come they are allowed to tip it on their maturation heaps which are out in the fields at these times? When waste is spread on the land it has to be ploughed in within 24 hrs to help reduce the smell, but when it is tipped on the heaps it is just left out in the open with no covering to even try and reduce the stench. One farmer’s selfish and thoughtless business activities are wrecking the lives and Christmas of everyone else living in the area.

Angry Spaldington resident said...

Re. December 22nd post:
I believe it! It absolutely stinks outside this morning.
Has this composter no consideration whatsoever for his neighbours? Is this revenge for Spaldington's opposition to his appalling business?

amber said...

Hi I think we are living in a parellel universe with you up there down here in Suffolk!!!!

We have suffered at the hands of our local mulch plant (if you can call it that with out a trades descriptions act action being taken out on you!). Having read the comments on the blog its like re living life here - the desperation that is felt after ringing 0800 807060 EA hotline for the 100th time and still getting now where - I see no mention of the mass of lesser common house fly that plagues us here in the months of April to August - plague levels being attained at around the May/June period! You must have them - they crap all over your house leaving brown marks on your white ceiling meaning you have to paint your house once every 2 years! We have had a pub shut with the loss of 10 local peoples jobs because of our site - it employs local Lithuanians to work on the site for Minimum wage as no one locally wants to come home for tea smelling like someones rotted curry from Hounslow. Which brings me onto another topic - we via the freedom of information act have found out from the Environment Agency that during the most smelliest fly ridden months May to July only 7% of the food waste and green waste composted her in stanton suffolk actually came from suffolk. Most of it came from London Boroughs and even 1.5% came from BLACKPOOL IN LANCASHIRE, which if my geography serves me well is actually closer to you Paul!! Now explain that one to me as I havent had a satifactory answer from the company who runs ours - County Mulch or Greenview environmental (or not so!).

So there you have it do the research and you will find that you are IMPORTING rotting food from hundreds of miles away as we have just found out - we have lived with the nuisance and until recently didnt know how to complain as the sign with the breach details is not on public land rather on a private gated business estate! The EA have been equally as useless and sadly so have our County councilors and Politicians - they are all conservative so perhaps, Paul, you could talk to them down here and teach them how a good county councilor should take care of his or her local people as this is what they were elected for!