Legal advice

What you can do if your quality of life and health is being affected by a compost farm?

Everybody has a ‘legal right to enjoy their property and if an operator of a compost farm is interfering with that right you may take them to court for damages.
Usually this is not available to people unless they are very poor or very rich.

HOWEVER, DON’T DESPAIR IF YOU’RE NOT IN THESE CATEGORIES. IN THIS CASE IF YOU HAVE LEGAL EXPENSES COVER ON YOUR HOUSE INSURANCE YOU CAN TAKE LEGAL ACTION WITHOUT PERSONALLY INCURRING THE EXPENSE.

If the site near you is up and running and causing major problems, which the Authorities are failing to control, then you can either take the Authorities to court, or the operator to court or both.

Taking action against the operator

Once the compost farm starts causing problems you MUST immediately get your legal advisor to contact your insurer to report the nuisance and they should bear the costs of legal action to protect your home (usually you have to contact them within 180 days but you can be entitled to up to £50,000 legal expenses per household).
To support your case you will probably need to appoint consultants to carry out testing on the odour and bioaerosol levels and some of this money should go towards this.

Taking action against the Environment Agency and/or the Environmental Health Department

The Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle which is established in UK and European law, should be applied when, on the basis of the best scientific advice available in the time-frame for decision-making:

  • there is good reason to believe that harmful effects may occur to human, animal or plant health, or to the environment; and
  • the level of scientific uncertainty about the consequences or likelihoods is such that risk cannot be assessed with sufficient confidence to inform decision-making.

If a proposed site is within 250 metres of ‘occupied dwellings’, the EA and the Environmental Health Officer should, having been provided with information about the serious risks, follow this Principle which demands that they should err on the side of caution and object to any such sites, until they are in a position to present studies to show the extent of the problem.

If you are unhappy with a lack of objection to a compost site by the EA or the Environmental Health Department within the Local Authority then you can take this matter to Judicial Review.
You must however, lodge a Judicial review within 3 months of a decision by these Authorities either to do or not to do something.

If a nearby site is up and running and causing major problems which the Authorities are failing to control you must take them to court for failing to monitor and enforce the sites.