'Sickening' smells cost poultry firm £52,500

14th May 2013

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  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Food and drink ,
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  • Agriculture



Food supplier Moy Park has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £42,500 after being found guilty of breaching its environmental permit and allowing nauseous odours to be released from one of its poultry farms

In a nine-day trial, Lincoln magistrates’ court was told that, over a three-year period, the Environment Agency had received close to 100 complaints about smells from the Heal Poultry Unit in Kirkby-on-Bain, near Woodhall Spa. Local residents said that odours from the intensive poultry farm left them feeling sick and depressed, and had forced many to stay indoors.

Moy Park held an environment permit allowing it to rear up to 156,200 chickens at the farm on a 37-day cycle, on the condition that it protected the environment and local communities. However, between July 2008 and September 2011, 94 complaints were lodged with the regulator about odours from the site.

The agency visited the site and sent “numerous” communications to Moy Park about the need to better manage smells, but the problem continued.

In February 2010, after the firm refused to have staff interviewed voluntarily, the agency used its statutory powers to interview two employees. They admitted that odours were monitored only occasionally and that no records were kept.

The agency continued to receive complaints over the next 11 months and Lincoln magistrates convicted Moy Park of breaching its environmental permit twice between 21 July 2009 and 18 January 2011, fining the firm £5,000 for each offence.

Since February 2011, the firm has cut the number of chickens reared at the site by one-third, which has reduced odours. However, district judge John Stobart said the firm could have made changes earlier, but instead tried to mask the smell and maximise its profit.

Environment Agency officer Emma Benfield said: “If Moy Park had resolve problems earlier it would not have been necessary to take enforcement action. The intensive farming sector needs to recognise that its activities have potential to cause amenity impact to neighbours and act sooner to rectify problems.”

Moy Park, whose consumer brands include Castle Lea and Jamie Oliver’s ready-to-cook chicken, was convicted of failing to control odours from its farm in Sibsey in March 2011 and fined £30,000. In August 2012, it was fined £12,000 for breaching its water abstraction licence at another of its Lincolnshire sites.

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