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Nasty whiffs from local sewage treatment works could be a thing of the past thanks to a new voluntary Code of Pract...
Nasty whiffs from local sewage treatment works could be a thing of the past thanks to a new voluntary Code of Practice published yesterday by Defra.

The Code of Practice on Odour Nuisance from Sewage Treatment Works highlights to water companies and local authority regulators suggested good practice for controlling bad smells and how best to respond to complaints of odour from members of the public.

The problem of sewage odour, which generally exists as a result of more extensive treatment process, is recognised as an issue for local people, especially given their increased awareness of local environment quality.

As such, previous consultations on the issue have shown strong support for the development of a Code of Practice.

Local Environmental Quality Minister Ben Bradshaw said: 'There is a clear public demand to minimise the impact of unpleasant odours from waste water treatment works.

'In response to that demand we have developed this voluntary code of practice to advise the public, local authorities and the water industry how best to assess, control and deal with these odours.

'However we do need to be realistic: while the new code will help to tackle odour in many cases, it cannot guarantee that minor odour will not occur in all circumstances.'

The code advises sewage treatment works operators and regulators how


* Understand odour by, for example, assessing its concentration, intensity, character, and hedonic tone (i.e. unpleasantness and offensiveness);

* Assess how much of a nuisance it is to the surrounding area by, for example, taking account of frequency, intensity, duration, offensiveness, local environment, and sufferer sensitivity;

* Manage complaints by, for example, showing who is responsible for different aspects of a complaint, including liaison between sufferers/the community and the operator;

* Abate or limit odour through good housekeeping such as maintenance of plant and equipment, and locating or re-locating sources of odour as far as is practicable from the site boundary and nearby residents;

* Abate or limit odour through further measures such as enclosure, covers or venting, and proactive management practices.

Most sewage treatment works are controlled under the statutory nuisance regime. It remains the responsibility of local authorities, and ultimately the courts, to decide on a case by case basis what a statutory nuisance is.

This Code of Practice applies to all sewage treatment works and other facilities where sewage is contained or handled (such as sewage pumping stations, but not sewers) to which the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 apply, regardless of the ownership, financial model and size of the companies owning those works. It does not apply to the relatively few sewage treatment works that are regulated under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations.

The code was developed in collaboration with a steering group consisting of water companies, Ofwat, the Consumer Council For Water (formerly WaterVoice), the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and local authority representatives.

The code of practice can be found at:

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