The Faccenda chicken processor in Brackley, Northamptonshire is facing legal action from about 60 families who claim the smells from the site are so foul it makes them “physically sick”.
Residents say the smell is so bad they have been unable to open their doors and windows, or enjoy being outside in their gardens during the summer.
Hugh James solicitors held a meeting for residents who wanted to take action against the poultry processor on a ‘no win, no fee basis’ last week (November 7).
Gwen Evans, partner in the environment group at Hugh James, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The meeting was very well attended, with around 60 families present. People were very worried about the impact of breathing in the foul odour, which makes them feel physically sick.
“They can’t enjoy their homes and they have to rewash their washing. This is an actionable nuisance in law.”
Hugh James has now been instructed to launch ‘a private nuisance’ claim against Faccenda, as residents have reportedly suffered “an injury in the use and employment of their homes”.
Evans stressed that the legal action was not a bid for compensation but was seeking “an end to the nuisance”, which is about the loss of the amenity.
The smell has been a problem for residents for years, they claim. But the law states that claims can be backdated only by six years.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Faccenda has a poultry abattoir in Brackley. It has a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit for the process, which was issued in September 2005.
“The Environment Agency is aware that there have been historical odour and noise complaints, and has worked closely with both the operator and a local action group about the complaints.
“We have also received considerably fewer complaints about the site this year than in previous years.”
Evans said: “This is not a trivial problem. They simply want to be able to enjoy their homes and gardens. They just want this to be stopped.”
Faccenda has not responded to FoodManufacture.co.uk’s request for comment.
In May, Faccenda acquired the UK’s second largest turkey producer Cranberry Foods .
Faccenda’s environmental timeline
• 2002 – Faccenda fined £75,000 for polluting the River Avon from its Sutton Benger plant.
• 2005 – Environment Agency issues Pollution Prevention Control permit to Faccenda’s Brackley factory.
• 2006 – Environment Agency found that the smell from the Brackley plant fell outside limits under the Pollution Prevention and Control and Regulations.
• 2008 – Environment Agency inspectors’ routine visit to Faccenda’s poultry unit finds hazardous waste being brought from other sites and incorrectly stored.
• 2009 – Faccenda fined £5,000 for incorrect disposal of waste at one of its Wiltshire processing plants. The company admits breaches of the Environmental Protection Act at Lyneham Farm, near Chippenham.