Gardens & wildlife

Hollingdean Waste Transfer Station

and The Environment Agency

Letter to residents reporting odour [Aug 2013 to Aug 2014]

Hollingdean waste transfer station

You are receiving this letter because you have made reports of odour from Hollingdean waste transfer station in the past year, and I wanted to update you on the current situation and the work being done to try to prevent odour being released from the site.


The Hollingdean site consists of a Waste Transfer Station (WTS) and a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) which collects the household Waste from Brighton before being moved on for disposal or recycling. The MRF takes dry recyclables and is considered a low odour risk, and the WTS takes domestic black bin waste which can be very odorous, particularly in hot weather. It is located opposite the Brighton Council depot, which cannot be discounted as an odour source due to the dustcarts which park there.

Over the past couple of months we have been gathering evidence from odour reports and attending as many as we have been able to. From this I have been able to confirm the presence of odour and identify some of the sources of it. The next stage is to put plans in place to combat this.

Technical issues

I have identified the 2 biggest problems which cause odour nuisance - the design of the building and the nature of the waste received. The primary odorous source is the food waste contained within domestic refuse. The only possible way to remove that is for the local council to instigate separate waste collections for food waste, which would be a huge undertaking for them. I am planning to arrange a meeting with Brighton City Council in the near future to discuss with them whether this option is feasible/but I must stress it is not within my power to compel them to do this. Veolia would be happy with this option and have the facilities to do so if required.

The design of the building is the other primary contributing factor. Most odour complaints arise when the doors to the WTS are opened, particularly in the morning. The building was built without an Antranra airlock system, so there is no barrier between the waste and the open air when the doors are opened and this allows odour to escape. Veolia have also identified that odour has been escaping through the vents designed to let air into the building.

I have asked Veolia to employ a qualified engineer to undertake a survey of the building to establish whether any improvement engineering work is possible, and a cost benefit analysis will be done to determine whether any work is feasible, from technical and financial viewpoints. I have also asked them to undertake air modelling both inside and outside the building which will better identify the pathways odour is taking, and the best places inside to store waste to prevent this happening. Engineering solutions are very expensive and not guaranteed to be successful, so all other options will be explored before anything of this sort is done. In the short term, Veolia will be trialling odour neutralization strips in the air vents to stop this pathway, and will be carrying out monitoring to assess its effectiveness. They are also looking into ways of reducing the time the doors are open as much as possible. Neither of these options will eliminate odour entirely, but they should help to reduce it.

Site Management

Veolia are committed to keeping waste on site for as small amount of time as possible, and generally achieve turnaround within 24 hours. Waste is loaded onto lorries at night ready to leave when disposal sites open in the morning and minimise the amount left in situ. The management is generally very good and I am satisfied that it is not a major cause of the odour problems, although this does not mean it can't be improved.

I have asked them to improve the overnight storage conditions by moving the remaining waste into one small area where odour can be more easily managed. They are also completely emptying and cleaning the building more frequently. One issue raised by Veolia was that they are concerned that keeping odour suppression on at ail times, as they currently do, is actually contributing to the odour problem. This Is because the waste is kept wet, so decomposes and becomes odorous quicker, and also creates areas of run of which are also odorous. With this in mind they are going to trial not using the deodorisers at night, for a couple of nights only, and monitor any difference this makes. The dates and details of this have not been finalised yet, and I will notify you and give you more information beforehand.

Visiting the site

Veolia are holding a walkaround day on 29th August. If you wish to visit on this day please contact them beforehand to arrange. This is primarily for the MRF but will allow you to see for yourselves how the site is working.

I want to be able to keep you informed of progress on site and will set up a distribution list for future correspondence. If you would like to be on this list, please send an e-mail to me at chris.parkin@environment-agencv.gov.uk and feel free to pass this on to friends or neighbours who have not received this letter. I am happy to receive direct correspondence on any queries regarding the site, but please continue to direct odour complaints to our national incident line.

Yours Sincerely,

Chris Parkin
Environment Officer

Direct e-mail - chris.parkin@environment-agency.gov.uk
Environment Agency - Solent & South Downs
Guildbourne House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1LD

Customer services line: 08708 506 506
Email: enauiries@environment-agencv.qov.uk www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Latest follow-up

Click here to read about an attempt which will begin from Monday 15th September to suppress unpleasant smells from Hollingdean Depot.

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This page was last updated by Ted on 30-Mar-2019
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