Compost pongs land firm in court

A composting site has been fined after failing to monitor the odours created by piles of green waste turning into compost.

Complaints from local residents in Haynes, Bedfordshire, sparked an investigation by the Environment Agency last summer.

Inspectors who visited the site, run by Material Change Ltd, found that the company was in breach of its waste management licence.

The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,257 in costs after pleading guilty to four offences at Bedford Magistrates Court.

Magistrates heard the company’s licence to operate the Bedfordshire site included conditions to monitor and record smells around the boundaries.

Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting, said the company had failed to comply with some of these over some period of time.

“There is also evidence that records were changed between the seizure of documents from the site and the documents provided as required by the Statutory Notice,” she added.

The court heard that records from February 7 to July 16 seized by the Environment Agency showed moisture readings were taken at most once a day, and on many days had not been recorded at all.

The site uses windrow composting, which relies on the effect of oxygen dissolving in the water layer in and around the compost.

Smells can be created if the compost becomes too dry, slowing down the composting process, and is then wetted again, restarting the composting.

Material Change had also failed to prepare or submit six-monthly environmental performance reports to the Agency until prompted.

“The poor management of the site has led to odour complaints in the past, showing there is potential for harm to members of the public,” Mrs McDonald told the court.

“The offences cover a significant period of time, which shows it was not an isolated breach.”

Kate Martin

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