Life near the Dump
The Argus (3 Jan 2013) New technology to eliminate waste stations' stink
From this site (13 Aug 2009) Worst smell on record in Princes Road
The Argus (22 Aug 2008) Hollingdean Dump kicks up a stink
How To Complain
If you are troubled by odour from The Waste Transfer Station
&/or Materials Recovery Facility at Hollingdean Depot, phone The Environment Agency on 0800 807060
. They will log your complaint.
Bunmi Aboaba of The Environment Agency
(see their factsheet
) takes a special interest in Round Hill's concerns. After your complaint has been officially logged, you might want to ask if she could give you a call back to explain the problem and say what is being done.
If the nuisance is noise
, then contact Environmental Health at Brighton & Hove City Council: 01273 294490
You can also inform Veolia's Site Manager about odour &/or noise by email ( Kevin.Hanson@veolia.co.uk
, phone (Kevin Hanson on 01273 544 205
) or write to him at Hollingdean MRF/WTS, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc, Hollingdean Lane, Brighton BN1 7BB
. However, ensure that your complaint is made first to The Environment Agency
&/or Brighton & Hove City Council
, so that it is logged by the bodies which permit Veolia to operate.
Residents needed to liaise with Veolia
The Hollingdean Facility Community Liaison Group
There is still a useful role for Round Hill residents who have the time to attend The Hollingdean Facility Community Liaison Group
. The Round Hill Society's secretary, Rob Stephenson, has been providing concise updates
on Veolia's recent trials of equipment to control escapes of odour and dust.
Reduction of odour nuisance
from The Waste Transfer Station would be most welcomed by residents living in the north of our neighbourhood, as would better landscaping
to lessen the stark visual reminders of industrial activity so near to our homes and gardens.
"A landscaping plan
", "a coat of green paint
" or "reducing instances where the lights are left on overnight
" are the sorts of suggestions which a residents' representative could make. Since the removal in 2006 & 2007 of trees & soft vegetation along Round Hill's railway corridor, which planners once hoped would form part of a protected greenway, the screen which used to shield residents in the NE of our neighbourhood from Hollingdean Depot has been badly compromised.
Replacement of lost natural vegetation (still needed on the south side) is what is required under planning conditions 20, 21 & 22 RE landscaping
set by the Council when permission for these massive sheds was granted.
The WTS & MRF were described by The Brighton Society (which objected to the scheme) as "basic metal sheds, the cheapest form of building; proposed grey colour = out of keeping with the area
Contact Kevin Hanson
(above) if you would like to know when this Group meets and are interested in becoming a member. The Round Hill Society's secretary, Rob Stephenson, has been attending recent meetings and updating residents through our printed newsletters, which he edits.
Updates on odour management
from issue 50 of The Round Hill Reporter - December 2012
Rob reported on the October 2012
meeting of The Hollingdean Facility Community Liaison Group
– some new Swedish kit is to be installed at the Materials Recovery Facility. This uses filters and active carbon to control dust and smell. A new smell elimination system will replace the water mist system within the Waste Transfer Station. The latter stores black bag refuse, including the food waste which is by far the main culprit in terms of odour escapes. The new system works by circulating the air within the WTS through a number of hanging cylinders which contain strong ultra-violet lights. The UV radiation is intended to destroy the odour molecules as they are drawn through the cylinders. If they have sufficient cylinders (moving enough air) then there should be no smells to escape.
One factor making odour management a difficult challenge is the poor quality of Veolia's industrial buildings (WTS & MRF: "basic metal sheds, the cheapest form of building" to quote The Brighton Society). All the access doors are simply single-doors. With frequent opening and closing (sometimes they are left open for extended periods of time in breach of the Council's planning conditions), the prevention of odour escapes is not a contained process.
from issue 49 of The Round Hill Reporter - September 2012
Rob reported on the Aug 2012
meeting of The Hollingdean Facility Community Liaison Group
– most notably that active carbon filtration for the Waste Transfer Station
has been abandoned as unlikely to be effective (building too porous) and too big. Now looking into a UV lamp/ozone system for breaking down odour molecules. May have pilot in place before year end.
The filtration system in the Materials Recovery Facility
has been removed as it only took out half the dust/odour, new kit intended to be 50% more effective is being sourced.
Summer 2012 - odour nuisance continues
Odour from WTS still troubling local residents
Residents living on the north side of Princes Road continue to suffer high levels of odour (short flurries of swirling dust on hot &/or windy days)
from The Waste Transfer Station, where no landscaping at all has yet been carried out
within the southern perimeter of the Hollingdean Depot site.
Odour nuisance was considerable on Fri 27th July 2012
and significant the day before, making it again unpleasant even for those using Princes Road. Those residents living on the north side of Princes Road could forget about enjoying the amenity of their rear gardens during the warmer conditions they had waited for during a summer which was slow to live up to its name.
Condition 2 of Veolia's planning permission states that the Materials Recovery Facility and Waste Transfer Station hereby permitted shall not exceed a combined recyclable materials and waste throughput capacity of more than 160,000 tonnes per annum and annual monitoring evidence shall be submitted to demonstrate this,
The very smelly waste which caused greater nuisance than normal on Fri 27th July 2012
was apparently imported from outside Brighton and Hove. The maximum permitted capacity of 160,000 tonnes per annum is a significantly higher amount than Brighton and Hove residents produce.
It would seem quite reasonable for residents to demand that the permitted capacity is reduced to exclude waste from outside our city until adequate measures are taken to prevent odour nuisance to Hollingdean Depot's residential neighbours. Otherwise, planning condition 2 would continue to allow Veolia to put profit before people
Absence of Odour Control Plant
Technology exists (see PDF File
) to reduce levels of odour. It is claimed that Odour Control Plants
are capable of reducing the odour levels emitted by over 95%. Such a plant was recently successfully installed and commissioned by the contractor Simdean
for the client Oxigen Environmental
. The contractor claims to have solved the problem of odour emissions from a Municipal Waste Transfer Station.
By comparison with Simdean's system, odour management at Hollingdean Depot seems to be very poor, consisting mainly of the use of deoderants and planning conditions (e.g. Re door opening & closing) which are not always observed.
In January 2012, the site manager of the WTS, informed The Round Hill Society that in the very near future
subject to sample test results and consultations with the E.A and manufactures, Veolia were exploring the opportunity to install The AIRCON -V
, a compact mobile interchangeable activated carbon adsorption filter, specially developed for the treatment and purification of air and gases.
Update: September 2012
The odour nuisance to residents in Princes Road has remained, yet active carbon filtration for the Waste Transfer Station
has been abandoned as unlikely to be effective (building too porous) and too big. Now looking into a UV lamp/ozone system for breaking down odour molecules. May have pilot in place before the end of 2012.
March 2012 - breach of planning condition
Condition 16 of The Council's planning conditions
MRF and WTS requires: doors to be kept closed when lorries are not going in or out
Visual impact on conservation area Landscaping south of Waste Transfer Station stripped away
You would expect planning conditions to require more
landscaping when a Waste Transfer Station is sited next to a residential community.
The Round Hill conservation area ended up with far less
, especially along the Coastways railway corridor, which separates Hollingdean Depot from our homes and gardens. Much of this designated greenway, still an important habitat for wildlife, was stripped of trees
while the MRF, WTS and Visitors' Centre were being constructed.
Land to the rear of 67-81 Princes Rd in September 2004
Land to the rear of 67-81 Princes Rd in October 2007
The level of nuisance
varies depending on wind conditions and work patterns, but the nuisance is very frequent and by no means limited to periods following Bank Holidays when there is a backlog of black bag rubbish to transfer. The nuisance disturbs residents within their homes and prevents residents enjoying their gardens even at weekends.
I live nearer the Materials Recovery Facility, but several times further from the Waste Transfer Station, than residents living at the NE end of Princes Road (between No. 67 and 81). Nevertheless, pollution from the Waste Transfer Station causes me the most nuisance
Odour is an almost constant nuisance and is often so strong that I am deterred from using my back garden. It sometimes gets carried to houses on the south side of Princes Road, travelling in gusts of wind up Princes Road and hitting residents on both sides of the street as they open their front doors. One of our local Councillors has described the smell as nauseating
. Visitors to my home have described the smell as sickly
and similar to what you experience when you are walking just behind a dustcart
Experience of complaining
Some of the methods used by The Environment Agency to respond to residents' complaints made us doubt whether Veolia would be asked to make a serious attempt to measure odour nuisance and to come up with solutions. Initially, some residents were asked to:
i) describe the odour, tie it to particular times, and
ii) rate it on a scale of 1 (slight problem) to 5 (very bad).
I refused to do either, explaining that the description of the odour
was no mystery to anybody in Princes Road - i.e. the EA (& anybody working or walking in the vicinity of The WTS) know exactly what the nuisance is already.
I found it extraordinary that an Environment Agency - an institution which I would expect to use more scientific monitoring measures than amateur psychology
- should ask me for my own subjective rating of an odour on a scale of 1 (slight problem) to 5 (very bad).
Generally, residents do not phone organisations such as The Environment Agency unless they have significant and reasonable grounds for complaint
Standard methods of complaint-minimization
do nothing to mitigate nuisances caused to
residents, but tend to suggest the nuisance is to some extent imagined by
people who have to put up with the smell of rotten rubbish on regular occasions.
Instead of asking residents to rate what has driven them to complain, it would be preferable if an Environment Agency could tell them what systems are in place for the scientific measurement
of the odour.
EA's own methodology for measuring odour?
It would be an abdication of responsibility if a regulatory body lacked a scientifically-based system of monitoring the nuisances it is meant to control.
When planning proposals are submitted, Council's require noise surveys & reports
and developers employ acoustics specialists
to perform scientific measurements. These specialists are expected to describe their methodologies so they can be scrutinized by anybody participating in the planning process. What is passing for science
or best practice
should always be subject to scrutiny.
I would expect an Environment Agency to use a recognised methodology for measuring whether emissions of odour from a Waste Transfer Station are at reasonable and acceptable levels. Also the public ought to know, in scientific terms, what levels are deemed to be acceptable.
Instead, it seems that the system is complaint-based, and the Environment Agency wants local residents to log reports of unreasonable nuisance when they are troubled by odour, noise or dust, so that they have a sufficient evidence base
of significant nuisance
to require action from Veolia. Effective action could mean paying the cost of an Odour Control Plant
and finding space to install it at Hollingdean Depot. If it were a choice between accommodating an Odour Control Plant
or a Visitors' Centre
designed to give Veolia good public relations, some residents might suggest that the better route to good PR
would be to create less nuisance to immediate neighbours.
Visual Amenity V Odour, Dust & Noise
Residents living in part of Edinburgh have just won their fight
to have an appeal for reconsideration of a giant Waste Transfer Station in their area
dismissed. It was ruled that the development would have damaged the character and appearance of the Portobello conservation area. The appeal was mainly dismissed because of the impact on visual amenity
Residents from The Portobello PONGS Campaign Group
wrote to thank The Round Hill Society for sharing comment on the nuisances of living near a Waste Transfer Station
, but they lamented the complacency of the authorities in relation to odour, fugitive particles and noise pollution
It (The victory) cost our ‘village’ community a lot of time and effort but reading Round Hill’s lists of noise, pong and airborne dirt – well it gave us extra determination!
The only annoying thing is that the judges listened only to the arguments made regarding the aesthetic look of the building rather than the other more vexing pollutants – these were dismissed as manageable and would be ‘subject to license’.
Obviously we would be in your situation had they also dismissed the “visual loss of amenity” and allowed the application.
Had permission been granted for the Waste Transfer Station effectively opposed by The Portobello PONGS Campaign Group
, then the licencing body which would have had to manage the nuisances described as "more vexing than loss of visual amenity" would have been The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
- the Scottish counterpart to The Environment Agency (EA)
, the regulatory body in England and Wales.
The Scottish Appeal Inspector's confidence that SEPA
could manage odour, noise and fugitive particles, might well rest on knowledge of emerging technologies, such as Odour Control Plants
to deal with the more vexing nuisances which Waste Transfer Stations cause to residents living nearby.
The decision on 9th June 2010 by members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee to refuse
Carelet’s application (no ) to build 6 three-storey houses on the greenfield site (to rear of 67-81 Princes Road) cited Detrimental Impact on future occupiers due to the proximity to the Hollingdean depot.
among its reasons for refusal
Reference was made by the Princes Road resident who spoke against Carelet's proposal to the nuisances she suffered living significantly further away from the WTS than Carelet's prospective residents. She also cited Councillor Pete West's statement on the very unpleasant odour that he had witnessed first-hand as a pedestrian in Princes Road and adjoining streets.
The item on Carelet and The Waste Transfer Station
illustrates the folly of housing new residents still nearer to Hollingdean Depot, where there is currently no Odour Control Plant
to limit bad smells to a reasonable level and where the levels of noise would also make garden use & window-opening very unattractive.
Carelet's design proposed a ventilation system so that window-opening at third-floor level would not be necessary, but it was observed that ventilation systems were not always quiet themselves.
Complaining to the EA 0800 807060
It is really up to local residents to monitor whether they are being observed, because Veolia just gets on with its work. The terms of its licence do not require it to monitor its operation, though the company was asked by The Environment Agency last summer to implement an Odour Management Plan in response to a spate of complaints from local residents. Initially, many complaints were about noise. Through winter 2009 and Spring 2010 most of the local nuisance has been caused by odour.
These facilities are meant to operate within
1) the terms of their licence from The Environment Agency
2) in accordance with the Council's planning conditions
Breaches of the EA's operating licence
If you are troubled by noise, odour or dust particles
from The Waste Transfer Station &/or Materials Recovery Facility at Hollingdean Depot, phone The Environment Agency on 0800 807060
. They will log your complaint.
Breaches of Planning Conditions
Details of The Local Council's Planning Conditions are given here
The Council's planning conditions, which include condition 16 requiring doors of the MRF/WTS to be kept closed when lorries are not going in or out, are somewhat different from those set by The Environment Agency
, which grants Veolia a licence to operate its facilities.
If one or more of the Council's planning conditions
are being breached - e.g. condition 16 forbids leaving doors open while no vehicle is entering or leaving the WTS/MRF - contact Scott Castle, Brighton and Hove City Council's Senior Environmental Health Officer on 01273 292248 email: Scott.Castle@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Keeping a nuisance diary
During the early summer of 2009, the Environmental Health Officer suggested that local residents should keep diaries (click here
for SAMPLE DIARY
) to log the nuisances caused by the WTS and MRF.
The SAMPLE DIARY
mainly documents and illustrates the problem of noise
, though odour
is now (in 2010) reported by many local residents as the major nuisance.
Reporting systematically and for significant periods of time on unpleasant nuisances has the disadvantage of making them the centrepiece of residents' lives. Should it not be the wider public purse (Council & EA) which is monitoring these nuisances? Are the Council and EA not abdicating their responsibilities by making the residents most affected by pollution into the front-line monitors?
Local residents' comments
Wastewatch comment - 10 Feb 2010
"Horrible acrid smell for most of afternoon Tuesday 9 Feb on Princes Road, and in our garden. This is almost daily I can smell the WTF in Princes Road."
(Householder living towards the west end of Princes Road)
Comment from Hollingdean - 6 Feb 2010
Rob Stephenson receives a phone call from a lady living off Davey Drive (Widmore Close) saying there was a terrible smell from tip last week (the last week of January).
Wastewatch comment - 26 Jan 2010
"There has been an appalling smell every day for the last week or so in Princes Road. Particularly bad in the mornings"
(Householder living near junction of Princes Rd and Crescent Rd)
Ward Councillor's comment - 24 Jan 2010
On the morning of 24th January there was a very strong and unpleasant odour present along the whole length of the road. It was strongest at the top, nearest the Waste Transfer Station. Personally I found it quite nauseating. One resident near the top of the road stated that this was not an unusual state of affairs, the stink from the dump is present at least twice a week regardless of busy or difficult periods around the holidays or as experienced with the disruption caused by the snow. I am pretty dismayed by this, as ward councillors have been repeatedly assured that smells are contained and neutralised. I also noted that the noise from machinery at the WTS was pretty loud, and this is contrary to reassurances we have been given too. Cllr Davey and I visited the site earlier last year and were told the problems experienced at the beginning of last year were teething troubles now resolved. This seems does not seem to have been the case, can you explain how it is that these issues have persisted and what contractors are being asked to do to prevent them.
(Cllr Pete West).
Waste left uncollected:
odour in & around Hollingdean Depot
Veolia's John Collis admitted to local residents that "black bag waste will start to smell if it is not moved on the same day or the day after." (Under Veolia's licence the black bag waste can be stored in the Hollingdean WTS for up to 72 hours.)
There is going to be some odour, but expect the problem of containing it to be more difficult during hot weather. Icy roads are just one reason why waste may be left uncollected for more than 24 hours. Industrial action is another. Smelly waste taken in by the Waste Transfer Station at Hollingdean Depot could come from far and wide, not only Brighton and Hove. When it does, as was the case last July and August during hot weather conditions as opposed to a cold spell, Veolia ought to have an odour management plan in place other than sending us letters of apology like this one:
"We thank you for your understanding"
Dear Sir or Madam
Hollingdean Materials Recovery and Transfer Facility, Hollingdean Lane Brighton - Requirement for Saturday Working on 23rd and 30th January 2010
Veolia Environmental Services has been requested by Brighton & Hove City Council's Waste Collection Authority (WCA) to seek planning consent for a temporary variation to conditions 5 and 6 to enable operation of the Hollingdean Materials Recovery -Facility (MRF) and Waste Transfer Station (WTS) on Saturday 23rd January and Saturday 30th January 2010. This consent has now been granted.
The request results from the WCAs need to continue to catch up on its refuse and recycling collection arrangements following the recent period of heavy snowfall and we are assured by the WCA that this requirement to work on Saturday is as a last resort and all collection rounds will be carried out during weekdays wherever possible.
We are very conscious of managing the site with a view to limiting odours. However, while you can be assured of our commitment to taking all reasonable measures to try to ensure an odour issue is not created which may cause a disturbance to local residents, the recent adverse weather has resulted in an increase in waste delivered to the facility over a short period of time. This could lead to some increase in odour because Brighton & Hove City Council was unable to collect waste during the period of snowy and icy conditions and therefore waste has had to be left uncollected for significantly longer than usual. We will endeavour to mitigate any such odours and we will, of course, continue to operate the facility in accordance with all planning and licensing requirements.
We thank you for your understanding as we try to assist Brighton & Hove City Council to return to normal services and can assure you that every reasonable effort will be made to minimise any disruption to you.
On behalf of
Veolia Environmental Services
Nuisances for residents in Princes Road
The Council's sparse resources for enforcement affords little protection to neighbouring residents in relation to noise, odour and fugitive particles
Note that: Condition 16 was set by Brighton and Hove City when granting planning permission for the WTS & MRF. It is not part of the operating licence for these installations issued and monitored by The Environment Agency. Its observation depends on the resources available to the Council to enforce its planning conditions, of which there are thousands altogether!
Let-out clauses to allow pollution of surrounding neighbourhoods
However, under condition 3.3 of the Environment Agency's Licence (Number EAWML 100185), Veolia has not breached its permit if appropriate measures have been taken to prevent or where this is not practicable, to minimise, the litter and the mud.
Is it right that the licence from the Environment Agency permitting the Waste Transfer Station at Hollingdean Depot to operate, gives Veolia "let-out clauses" allowing them to pollute local neighbourhoods with noise, odour, litter, mud and particles of dust?
What specifically do residents want their local planners and political representatives to address?
1a) Pollution in the form of noise, odour and dust particles, permitted to escape through the frequently opened doors of a Waste Transfer Station, causing nuisance to nearby residents.
1b) The continued absence of adequate landscaping.
1c) The poor construction of the WTS/MRF buildings RE containment of the pollution: the lack of double doors/filtration.
1d) Profit / cost minimisation before people's health. Why should the maximum permitted capacity remain at 160,000 tonnes per annum, significantly greater than is needed to service Brighton and Hove residents' domestic waste, while the odour nuisance continues and is also caused by smelly waste being imported fron outside our city? Hasn't the Environment Agency got any lever to stop this?
1e) Operating Licences (licences to pollute) which fail to set precise limits to manage AND PREVENT odour/dust particle/noise pollution. Instead, the Environment Agency's ongoing system of regulation requires local residents to suffer (i) POLLUTION EVENTS and (ii) sufficient anger and stress to telephone whichever of their officers is logging complaints.
The terms of the licence to pollute given by the EA to Veolia (which is not obliged to monitor the effects of its operation) then leave it to the discretion of the EA's officers as to whether (iii) to believe local residents or (iv) require Veolia to take any action.
The protection of public health is the duty of EA. Making the mechanism conditional on complaint neither respects the mental or physical health of the worst affected residents. The EA's mechanism guarantees rather than controls pollution. Intervention in fact depends on ongoing low-level torture of pollution victims, avoiding the (more costly?) scientific checks which a reputable EA should be using to carry out its duties.
1f) The polluter's requests for "lenience RE the problem of odour during weekends following Public Holidays" should trigger sanction by the Environment Agency rather than be allowed to try the patience of local residents.
Waste and Minerals Plan - Inspector's report