Kicking up real stink over muck spreaders

Civic Offices
Civic Offices

A FARMING firm has been left more than £27,000 out of pocket after breaching orders to restrict its spreading of ‘nauseating and gut-wrenching’ chicken manure, which caused a city wide stink.

Milton Keynes magistrates heard how the council’s Environmental Protection team received more than 150 complaints over a three-day period in September last year, relating to spreading being carried out by Fullers Farming Ltd.

The odour severely affected residents in Kingsmead, Oxley Park and Westcroft, but could be smelt right across Milton Keynes.

Following a three day trial, Fullers Farming Ltd, of Winslow, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay all the council’s costs of £17,181.34, after being convicted of breaching an Abatement Notice and causing a Statutory Nuisance, through the spreading of the manure at Bottlehouse Farm, near Kingsmead.

Magistrates heard that there was a previous incident in August 2009, when Fullers Farming spread stinking chicken manure on the same farm, with the wind blowing the smell towards the same residential areas.

The council served a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice to the company, prohibiting a repetition of the smell nuisance and requiring them to follow a number of conditions if they were again to spread highly odorous chicken manure on Bottlehouse Farm.

The principal condition was that it should not be spreading extremely smelly material if the wind was blowing in the direction of nearby houses in Milton Keynes.

However, from September 13 to September 16 last year, the court heard that Fullers Farming had breached the notice, by once again spreading the chicken manure on Bottlehouse Farm, when the wind was blowing towards nearby estates.

The smell was so strong it had begun spreading across the whole of Milton Keynes leading to a number of new complaints.

Investigating officers found the company was spreading chicken manure in fields as close as 30 metres from the nearest house, with the wind blowing the smell directly towards the houses, in direct contravention of the Abatement Notice.

The spreading continued for at least three days, producing smells lasting for a week which residents described as “nauseating, gut-wrenching, vomit inducing and worse than anything ever smelled before”.

The smells clung to people’s clothes, invaded their houses, forced residents to close all their doors and windows and made it impossible to go out into gardens.

Dr Steve Moorhouse, Environmental Protection Team Leader said: “Prosecuting companies is the council’s last resort, when all our advice has been ignored and legal notices have been contravened.

“No one expects normal farming operations not to cause some smells but this waste material from intensive chicken farming has a smell far beyond that of traditional farmyard manure.

“The magistrates clearly agreed with our view that the residents of Milton Keynes cannot be expected to tolerate their houses, gardens, clothes and furniture being pervaded by these horrendous smells caused by the irresponsible spreading of this highly offensive material without any regard being taken of the effects on other people.”