HEALTH and environmental concerns have once again arisen surrounding the Ansa waste site in Middlewich, after it was responsible for a foul stench lingering over part of the town.

The smell was reported by numerous residents in the Cledford end of town earlier this week.

Cheshire East Council, which owns the waste management company Ansa, told the Guardian that engineers were called out today to deal with the problem, suspected to be a faulty filter, and the odour now seems to have dissipated.

A spokesman for the council said: “Ansa Environmental Services, a Cheshire East Council wholly-owned company, is fully committed to being a good neighbour and we are in touch regularly with community representatives to discuss occasional odour issues.

“We have recently identified an issue with the odour system that resulted in it not working at its optimum level which resulted in an odour emission which was unfortunately made worse due to the dry and hot weather we were experiencing.

“We are working very closely with the supplier to mitigate the risk of this happening again and the odour has now dissipated. We have also arranged an additional full inspection of the odour and dust filtration system within the building to ensure that everything is running correctly.

“We apologise to local residents for any discomfort experienced during this time.”

But Middlewich Labour councillor Jonathan Parry says it is too early to say that the problem has been fixed. He says the council should wait until the warmer weather returns before declaring the engineering work a success.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Jonathan Parry

Cllr Parry, who sits on the Middlewich Town Council as well as Cheshire East Council, said: “From previous years it seems to be worse on hot days and I think it’s too early to tell whether the problem has in fact been rectified because it’s not been as hot today and of course people haven’t been outside as much to notice it. So I think judgement needs to be reserved at the moment and we’ll maybe see in a week’s time.

“It needs to be fixed long-term, absolutely, but having been in regular conversation with the Ansa managing director Kevin Melling, I’m confident he is someone who wants to work with communities.

“I have been one of Ansa’s worst critics during the Action Against Ansa campaign, but now it’s here and there’s nothing we can do about it. You don’t get anywhere by shouting from the rooftops and moaning, we’ve got to work with them.

“The smell is a really big problem for people. When we initially discovered the talk of the odour cloud before the site opened we were ensured that we wouldn’t be able to smell it as the cloud would be too high up, but it’s now been three years on the run it has happened.”

The issue of a possible ‘odour cloud’ was first discovered back in 2016 when planning permission was being sought to build and open the waste site in Cledford Lane.

Winsford Guardian:

The odour map which was revealed in 2016

An ‘odour map’ was published among other documents on the council’s online planning application portal but was soon removed.

Before it was removed, however, campaign group Action Against Ansa, led by independent town councillor David Latham, downloaded the document and shared it with the public.

Cheshire East Council at the time told the Guardian that the map, which showed an odour cloud over many houses around the Booth Lane area, was only a worst-case scenario before the filtration system was fitted.

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But the filtration system was fitted and despite that, that worst case scenario has occurred in the summers of 2018, 2019 and again this week.

Cllr Latham, who is now on the Ansa liaison group for the town council, said: “We always said that there would be an odour cloud but they rubbished it. They said there would be no odour cloud and Middlewich people will not suffer and said they would make sure of that, but they aren’t making sure of anything at the moment.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr David Latham

“I’ve been told by Ansa that the issue surrounds an increase in household waste due to people being at home because of lockdown. They say that the smell occurs when the filter needs changing and they can’t tell when it needs to be changed, but I just can’t believe that with all the assurances that we were given and the talk of state-of-the-art equipment, that people are subjected to this smell because they have no way of telling when a filter needs to be changed.

“Excuse the pun, but it stinks.”