New law for smell?

There may be a need for legislation to force water companies to control unpleasant smells from sewage treatment works, according to the Government, as it launches a consultation on the issue.


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Currently when treatment works have odour problems that cause distress to local people, the situation is usually sorted out through co-operation between the water company, the local authority and the Environment Agency. However, when this course of action does not work there is no method of enforcing compliance, says the Department for the Environment.

“There are a few difficult cases which the current arrangements are not able to deal with,” said Urban Quality of Life Minister Alun Michael. Enforcement powers for local authorities are a key proposal within the consultation, he said.

There are four possible options identified in the consultation:

  • a new voluntary code of practice providing guidance to all stakeholders in producing a resolution, with no change to legislation;
  • an extension of the Statutory Nuisance regime within the Environmental Protection Act (1990) to include odour and other nuisances from sewage treatment works;
  • using the Local Air Pollution Prevention and Controls (LAPPC) to require sewage works to obtain a permit containing conditions based on the use of best available techniques (BAT); or
  • extending the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regulations so that permits contain odour control, and allowing enforcement action and prosecution of they are not complied with.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 28 March 2003.

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