The owner of an Ingoldmells sewage plant has issued a ‘commitment to the highest level’ to address the odour issues which have blighted the village for decades.
Anglian Water has proposed enhancements to its chemical dosing procedures and the installation of a sealing system, following the threat of enforcement action by Lincolnshire County Council.
Growth, planning and equivalence manager at Anglian Water Stephen Langlois updated councillors on the company’s plans, during an environmental scrutiny committee meeting on Friday.
Speaking at the Royal Arthur Centre, he said: “It’s been recognised that we do need to provide a final solution and we are taking that very seriously and there’s a commitment to the highest level to get that resolved.”
Councillors expressed their wish to work with Anglian Water but warned that failure to permanently rectify the noxious aromas would result in legal action.
Committee chairman Coun Colin Davie said: “If it doesn’t get resolved there needs to be not just the threat of legal action but the process itself.”
A recent site inspection by council officers indicated that Anglian Water’s compliance with omissions management was ‘better’ than its planning conditions required - however councillors felt drainage issues over the wider network were also a serious concern that required separate attention.
They attributed the problem to the region’s population growth and felt East Lindsey District Council should have appointed Anglian Water as a statutory consultee before permitting developments, which put too much strain on the treatment plant.
Coun Davie said: “Important issues about infrastructure planning have been missed on the coast and we need to learn that lesson and plan properly for population growth.”
LCC waste manager Ray Wright informed councillors of the potential legal avenues for taking enforcement action against Anglian Water, if its latest plans failed.
Although Beacon Medical Practice told Mr Wright that ‘the odour certainly increases to the point that it is unpleasant to even drive through,’ he said there was insufficient evidence to take action on public health grounds.
He believed the most appropriate course of enforcement action would be under ‘statutory nuisance legislation’ governed by ELDC, using evidence of repeated public complaints.
But despite a large number of odour cards being sent to Anglian Water, Mr Wright warned that none had been sent to ELDC as the relevant authority.
He said: “There are lots of complaint flying round but no evidence, so if some of Anglian Water’s plans fail we are back to square one.”
After years spent posting odour cards to Anglian Water with little result, Ingoldmells Community Group chairman Maurice Bird and parish chairman John Arnott-Watson feared it would be difficult to convince residents to submit the necessary evidence.
Coun Arnott-Watson said: “People have become so cynical that a lot of them have stopped sending the cards, so ELDC will never get a true picture.”
The committee resolved to create a new phone or website based reporting system to make it easier for residents to use.
Anglian Water’s latest proposals will be submitted by March 1, with consultation to follow.