DEFRA issues guidance on sewage odour abatement

The Government has decided to tackle bad smells from sewage treatment plants with a new code of practice for water companies and local authority regulators.

The new Code of Practice applies to all sewage treatment works

The new Code of Practice applies to all sewage treatment works

The voluntary code, published by DEFRA on Wednesday, gives guidance on reducing smells, and advises the public, companies and local authorities on what they can expect from complaint investigations.

Most sewage treatment works are covered by the statutory nuisance regime, with local authorities, and ultimately the courts, responsible for deciding what constitutes a statutory nuisance.

The code of practice includes practical advice on how to "understand odour" by assessing its "concentration, intensity" and "hedonic tone" - meaning level of unpleasantness or offensiveness - taking account factors such as "sufferer sensitivity."

It also sets out ways of limiting the propagation of unpleasant smells by improving plant maintenance, re-location and enclosure of sources of smells.

Local Environmental Quality Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "There is a clear public demand to minimise the impact of unpleasant odours from waste water treatment works.

"In response to that demand we have developed this voluntary code of practice to advise the public, local authorities and the water industry how best to assess, control and deal with these odours.

"However we do need to be realistic: while the new Code will help to tackle odour in many cases, it cannot guarantee that minor odour will not occur in all circumstances."

The Code of Practice, and other guidance regarding "odour and insect nuisance," is available on the DEFRA website.

Goska Romanowicz



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