The Environment Agency has issued an enforcement notice to Viridor Waste Management over its Horton landfill site after residents complaints about odours increased six fold in July and August.
The notice will force Viridor to take action to improve odour control on the site in West Sussex. If Viridor fails to act, the EA could prosecute.
EA regulatory officer Matthew Thompson said: While attempts have been made to control the problem, we believe the operator needs to go much further. Odour management at Horton must be a top priority for Viridor to protect local residents from having to endure repeatedly unpleasant smells in their homes. This enforcement notice underlines how seriously were taking this issue.
Over the last six weeks, the EA witnessed a number of problems at the site including poor coverage of waste being tipped and an infestation of seagulls but had not detected the odours during the visits.
It was only at a meeting with residents and Small Dole Action Group that the EA directly experienced the landfill gas smell, which wafted through the windows.
Viridor said that although an odour management plan is in place, due to a delay in receiving consent for a variation in the permit, site operation is being affected. As a result, of this delay the updated odour management plan cannot be put in place.
A spokesperson commented: Site inspections from the EA over recent weeks have failed to identify any significant issues and confirmed that operations on site were compliant, so the notice is unexpected.
We are duty bound to respond to the enforcement notice within the specified timescales and well do so accordingly. However, we will also review in detail the foundations for the notice and consider what further action well undertake if appropriate.