Headlines: April 6th, 2005

Watervoice – the body representing customers of water companies – wants local authority public health departments to have the legal powers to ensure action is taken to curb smells from sewage treatment works and it also wants to use the local planning system to limit odour nuisance.It has welcomed proposals of a Code of Practice to protect people from excessive smells and other nuisances from treatment plants. It said the Draft Code of Practice and Local Authority Guide on Odour Nuisance from Sewage Treatment Works, put out by Defra, would be a benchmark to demonstrate that ‘best practicable means’ had been used to deal with problems.

Watervoice Chairman, Maurice Terry, said, the Code of Practice had to set a clear standard for odour control that treatment works operators should aim for and he added, “Legal sanctions should back up the Code of Practice where necessary. It is important that someone, such as the relevant local authority’s environmental health department, has the power to enforce the actions to be taken.”

He also called for liaison between local authorities and stakeholders to be be a key part in handling and monitoring complaints and said it was essential that planning regulations were effective in limiting the encroachment of new homes around treatment plants. “Local authorities should consult sewerage companies on all planning applications and take account of what they say,” he added.

All-in-all, Mr. Terry said, decision making had to be transparent, so that everyone could see what options for controlling odour had been considered and how they had been assessed. The option selected had to rely on a judgement about what would deliver best value for money for the customers because they paid sewerage bills.