Councillors demand answers on Lyde Green smell mystery

June 25 2019

TOWN councillors have expressed their concerns over the continued unexplained smell reported by residents in Lyde Green and Emersons Green.

The smell is most commonly experienced early in the morning and during the evening. It sometimes only lingers for a short time and is described as having an egg or sulphur odour.
The Environment Agency, who regulate three operators in the area (the Tulip abattoir in Westerleigh, the Shortwood Landfill site which is operated by Enovert, and  Vertase FLI Ltd, which is excavating a historic landfill site as part of the Lyde Green housing development) told the Voice earlier this year that they are investigating potential sources of the odour and that the operators have cooperated with them to change their working practices and cut the risk of further odours developing.
However, despite these investigations, two Emersons Green town councillors have contacted the Voice to express their concerns over the level of action that is being taken by South Gloucestershire Council. They are also concerned that South Gloucestershire Council might have known of the potential smell risks of the Lyde Green site before construction work started, as in a recent email update from the Environment Agency  to a local resident, it was stated that: “When consulted on new developments by local planning authorities, we do try to make them aware that some regulated sites inevitably give rise to amenity issues such as noise, dust and odour, and that we cannot necessarily eliminate these through our regulation. It is unfortunate that they often give permission for new housing development to go ahead in close proximity to these sites.”
Matt Palmer, town councillor for Emersons Green ward, said: “The town council will continue to push investigation on this issue, and residents are urged to continue to report the issue to the Environment Agency and South Glos council. Work was carried out at Shortwood Landfill to combat the smell and that came off the back of residents complaining. Investigations still continue into old coal mines which may be potentially producing the smell.
“I haven’t yet seen support of this issue at a South Glos level but look forward to working with them on the issue. The Environment Agency are suggesting they issued warnings on the site before construction started, I will be greatly disappointed if this is true.”
Sadik Al-Hassan, town councillor for Blackhorse ward,  also added: “For my part, I am concerned that after so long the many possible sources of the smell haven’t been narrowed.  There does seem to have been some buck passing between the Environment Agency and South Glos council, which has been frustrating myself and residents.
“The great work of residents reporting has brought forward the plans at Shortwood to install gas extractors via the Environment Agency. I believe the ultimate responsibility for a nuisance smell rests with South Glos but I am worries they knew of this situation before building started.”
In response, Councillor Rachael Hunt, South Gloucestershire cabinet member for communities and an Emersons Green ward member, said: “The issue of the apparent smell in Lyde Green is something that residents have raised with us on a number of occasions and we will continue to work with the Environment Agency to establish the cause and find a solution.
“I, and my fellow Emersons Green ward members, are in the process of organising a public meeting with both the council and the Environment Agency. We will be publicising the date and venue once these are confirmed would encourage all residents and interested parties to attend.”
 A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council also told the Voice: “Decisions on planning applications are decided by the cross-party planning committees, aided by expert advice from officers and external bodies such as the Environment Agency, who serve as a statutory consultee on all planning applications.
“If the Environment Agency offer no objections and the committee refuse an application on the suggested grounds, this could result in the developers appealing the decision, which would potentially incur a considerable cost to the council and thus the taxpayer.”
Residents who have concerns about a smell in our area should report it to The Environment Agency by calling 0800 807 060