Guidance on odour from waste sites

Guidance on the regulation of odour at waste sites was issued for consultation by the Environment Agency in August.1

The guidance applies to both licensed and exempt waste facilities. It delves into the complicated relationship between controls under the waste licensing regime and those under the planning system. Where planning consent was granted after 1 May 1994, it says, the Agency cannot reject an application for a licence on the grounds of detriment to local amenities.

In 1997, an appeal decision relating to an Alco Waste Management site established that an operator cannot guarantee that treatment of waste can be free from offensive odours. "All that can be required is that odours are controlled so as not to harm human health or amenity off the site," the inspector found.

The guidance proposes that all licence applications should be assessed with regard to odours using a risk assessment provided by the applicant. Odours are to be subject to routine monitoring and emissions minimised by good operational practices.

Prescriptive licence conditions are generally to be avoided, says the guidance, but will be necessary where particular operations are likely to generate odours - such as excavation into waste, maintenance of gas or leachate apparatus or storage of waste.

Conditions seeking to control odours beyond the site boundary should be dependent on the location of the nearest receptor. A beauty spot immediately adjacent to the site might justify a condition requiring no odours beyond the site boundary. But where the nearest receptor is housing some 500 metres away, the condition "should be tempered accordingly."

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