Compost prosecutions

Trying to get the EA to act

It is notoriously difficult to get the EA to act and prosecute compost operators for causing odour problems or overloading their sites. However, there have been some groups who have been successful in providing such irrefutable evidence that they have forced the EA into action – a prime example of this being the Stourbridge residents.

The EA operate on a regional basis and there do seem to be huge differences between the different regions in their willingness to take action.

Action in terms of overloading a site is usually easiest in that you can prove the tonnage supplied by local authorities using the Freedom of Information Act and comparing this to the permitted amounts specified in the License/permit.

Action for odour nuisance is always more problematic but our understanding is if 2 regulatory officers can testify to the nuisance ie they attended on site on a timely basis and corroborated residents complaints then they can prosecute.

If you have an EA office who has not gone down this route it might be helpful to cite other cases where they have taken action. If necessary ask them to contact the EA officers in another region to ask them how they went about prosecution. Click on the cases below and the details of that case will be revealed.

You will note in the detail of these legal cases many took years to finally come to court. Magistrates courts allow for adjournment far too many times. In the Stourbridge prosecution we understand the case was adjourned 14 times before the operator was finally pinned down.

In more serious prosecutions the case can be heard in the crown court where adjournment is more difficult and where the fines tend to be higher.

Prosecutions for overloading a site

Prosecutions for odour

  • Hinton Organics, Bristol 2005 – Enforcement notice for causing odours.
  • ADAS 2006 Composting ‘Centre of excellence’, Cambridgeshire odour complaints, leachate and pollution of a stream.
  • Stourbridge 2007 – Press release only reports admission to odours but summary of charges and guilty plea from court admits to odours and harm to human health.
  • Cranberry Composting Boston, Lincs.2007 – Emitting odours at levels likely to cause pollution to the environment or harm to human health.
  • Jack Moody Shareshill, Staffs 2007/8 – Causing smells and emissions.
  • County Mulch, Stanton 2008 – Causing pollution and operating without a permit at 2 sites.
  • TEG Perth 2010 – Failure to contain offensive odours and release of leachate.