Ask H&H: muckheap complaints

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    Q: I moved into my own yard with five stables and six acres last year.

    There are two buildings opposite — one a commercial business — and both tenants are complaining about the smell of the muckheap, which is removed by a local farmer four times a year.

    The council asked if I could cover the muckheap up, but I am worried about the fire risk.

    I have also considered having someone collect the muck and leaving a trailer for me to fill, but the council does not like that idea because it will be “unsightly”. What can I do?
    A Holden, Beds

    There are no products that adequately deal with the smell of a muckheap and covering the heap would, as you say, bring its own risks.

    A spokesman from the environment and planning department of Central Bedfordshire council explained that nuisance smells are dealt with as statutory nuisances under sections 79 and 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

    Statutory nuisance

    “Under this legislation, we would probably look at such complaints in terms of accumulations of a nuisance. Whether a smell was a statutory nuisance would depend on its severity and duration, and its distance to the houses in question,” the spokesman explained.

    “We would make a judgement as to whether the smell materially interferes with a person’s enjoyment of their own home. There are no readings taken to assess the level of smell!

    “Our best advice in this scenario is to have the muck regularly removed by a regulated waste contractor; perhaps more frequently than your current three-monthly removal.

    “I would not recommend covering up the muckheap, as this will increase the likelihood of harbouring rodents.”

    The Environment Agency deals with commercial — as opposed to private — issues concerning odour problems, but added: “We realise the distinction between an acceptable and an unpleasant smell can be subjective, but also recognise that persistent odour can have a big impact on people’s quality of life.

    “Our odour experts do work with companies to help resolve problems and, where businesses ignore odour problems, we can and do bring prosecutions.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 October, ’09)

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