'Consternation and frustration' in Fairfield as Letchworth Sewage Works operators Anglian Water appeal against stench abatement notice
PUBLISHED: 15:57 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:59 09 February 2017
With the stench from the Letchworth Sewage Works as bad as ever, the operators have now appealed against an abatement notice requiring them to fix it by April – claiming it is not possible to stop the stink.
A faint smell has been noted by the people of nearby Fairfield for years, but it has intensified in the past year after processes changed at the works – and the notice served to Anglian Water by Central Beds Council in December was widely welcomed.
Anglian had until December 28 to appeal, but used a legal loophole at the 11th hour to challenge the notice’s validity – prompting the serving of a second notice on the Anglian subsidiary responsible for the Letchworth works, against which the firm appealed on Friday.
Anglian say they ‘want to be the best neighbours they can’, but that eliminating all smells from the water recycling process is impossible.
This has outraged the villagers, with Fairfield Parish Council chairman Chris Bidwell telling the Comet of ‘consternation and frustration’.
“Not surprisingly the Anglian Water appeal to the Central Beds Council abatement order has caused consternation and frustration for residents,” said Mr Bidwell.
“The council awaits independent legal advice and is in constant contact with our MP, Alistair Burt, as well as Central Beds Council officers and ward councillors.
“As stated in a letter to the Anglian chief executive, Peter Simpson, we think measures taken so far have completely failed and we are awaiting his response and their measures for a permanent solution.”
Writing to Mr Simpson, Mr Bidwell noted that the foul smell was noticeable up to three quarters of a mile away, and expressed scepticism regarding the effectiveness of systems that are supposed to neutralise the smell.
He also stressed that a second site of Fairfield Park Lower School is set to begin construction right next
door to the works, and open in September.
“The stench is obnoxious and debilitating,” he concluded. “An increasing number of residents are becoming vocal in voicing their frustration at the time it is taking to implement a solution.”
Mr Bidwell told the Comet that he was awaiting a response from Mr Simpson.
An Anglian Water spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately due to the nature of the site and the vital job it performs in the community –preventing sewage from entering the environment and preventing homes and gardens from flooding – all smells cannot be eliminated from the water recycling process.
“Therefore Anglian Water is querying the general nature and timescale of the abatement notice.
“We want to be the best neighbours we can and have taken a number of steps to address the odours. A specialist odour survey has been completed and an additional deodorising unit has been installed. In addition we will continue to use covered skips to transport sludge, a by-product of the water recycling process, from the site wherever possible.”