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Legal action moves on Cannock food plant smell

Neighbours living near to a waste plant at the centre of a long-running row over smells have said they may join a legal campaign against it.


It comes after it emerged more than 80 families have already started legal action against Biffa Waste Services in Heath Hayes, Cannock.

But opinion on the Newlands Park Estate is divided, with some saying the smell depends on the weather and is not that bad.

Biffa has also spent about £800,000 on its £24 million plant to improve the situation.

However, law firm Hugh James is holding two events next week to speak to other residents it believes may have a case against the Poplars Anaerobic Digestion Plant.

Peregrine Way resident Calum Dickson, 29, said he is unable to open his kitchen window because of the stench.

"It's very unpleasant – it smells like when you open the bin and stick your head in," said Mr Dickson.

"I'll be going to the meeting."

Simon Sturdy, 42, who has lived in Winchat Drive on the estate for three years said he too would like to go to the meetings.

The father-of-one said: "It's just terrible.

"If we can make the meetings we'll certainly go along.

"Some of these top people who make all the decisions should try living here."

Faye Higginson, of Peregrine Way said the smell can be "quite bad" but doesn't bother her enough to want to take action.

The mental health nurse, 30, said: "It really just depends what the weather's like – it varies. You just get used to it.

"I have too much going on in my life to want to go to the meetings."

Paul Sweet, 30, who has lived in Peregrine Way for six years said: "It just depends on which way the wind's blowing."

"It's not that bad. At the end of the day, when we bought the house we knew the tip was there."

Ian Smith, aged 40, who has lived in Peregrine Way for more than six years, said that he will be attending the meetings.

"I've got in touch with solicitors about it and I shall be going to the meeting to see what happens," he said.

"It's awful here, especially after 6pm on a Saturday and a Sunday. It really stinks."

Hugh James is holding the meeting at 7pm on February 26 at the Ramada Inn Birmingham North, Bridge Street, Cannock, to explain the claim process.

A question and answer session will be held and an open day will be organised at the same venue from 2pm to 8pm on February 27. Biffa said: "We understand that residents in Cannock are being canvassed by law firm Hugh James.

"As always, our position remains to engage with residents, listen to their issues and take every step in our power to address any legitimate concerns that they may have.

"As matters stand, Biffa has yet to receive any notification of a claim from Hugh James." Biffa's anaerobic digestion facility processes up to 120,000 tons of food waste from homes and businesses every year.

Bosses say the process is highly efficient and uses naturally occurring microbes to break down the food waste, producing enough renewable energy to power 6,000 homes and a soil improver that can be used in the same way as compost.

Spokeswoman Julie Forgate said: "Biffa has been liaising with the Environment Agency concerning complaints from residents that odour is escaping from the facility and into the local community.

"Biffa is taking these complaints seriously.

"Steps have been taken with the support and approval of the Environment Agency to commission an independent expert study that is designed to ensure that Biffa, by implementing best available techniques, is keeping the potential escape of fugitive odour to an absolute minimum.

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