Recycling site polluting Hitchin – but boss responds with ‘Muslims’ rant

Air pollution at Winters, shown in this photograph taken from the other side of Hunting Gate in Hitc

Air pollution at Winters, shown in this photograph taken from the other side of Hunting Gate in Hitchin. Picture: Colin Nunn - Credit: Archant

A new report claims air pollution around a Hitchin waste recycling site is 10 times accepted levels – but when asked about it, the firm’s manager today told the Comet we should instead be worrying about “the Muslims”.

Winters Recycling in Hitchin's Hunting Gate. Picture: JP Asher

Winters Recycling in Hitchin's Hunting Gate. Picture: JP Asher - Credit: Archant

Asked by this paper about air quality figures in the report, compiled by Richard Smith and his Bionet monitoring team at the University of Hertfordshire, Winters Recycling manager Lee Hadjioannou told the Comet: “It’s the Muslims you need to worry about, blowing stuff up.

“If there’s anything untoward, we should know about it. I’d really like to get those Muslim terrorists on the front page.

“It’s a really big threat. I wouldn’t worry about air particles. We’re doing our job. We’re monitored.

“We’re monitored by the Environment Agency and nothing untoward is happening here.”

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The Comet contacted Winters – in Hunting Gate, on the Wilbury Way industrial estate – after seeing the Bionet report into the air quality at Aston Microphones, next door.

The tests, done at five locations on June 29 – “a good day”, according to Aston managing director James Young – concluded that the recycling operation was threatening the “health, comfort and wellbeing” of Aston staff, as well as “residents of Hitchin downwind”.

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Mr Young commissioned the report after becoming concerned about his employees’ health.

Bionet found that where around 10,000 to 50,000 air particles per cubic metre would be expected, more than 630,000 per cubic metre were recorded on the Aston fire escape stairway.

The team also found levels of airborne bacteria and fungi exceeded the guideline level of bacteria from composting sites “by a factor of four”.

Bionet reported that material deposited on external surfaces was “almost entirely organic in origin”, and concluded that the site had last month switched to handling organic waste.

Asked for comment on the report, an Environment Agency spokesman told this paper: “The Environment Agency has received several complaints about excessive dust and noise from a permitted waste site in Hitchin. Our officers are aware of the concerns of neighbouring properties and are working with Hertfordshire County Council to resolve the issues.”

The Comet has contacted the county council for comment.

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