Sudbury residents affected by pet food factory pong take legal action

George Buffham outside the Nestle Purina factory in Sudbury.

George Buffham outside the Nestle Purina factory in Sudbury.

Sixteen families who claim they have been plagued by foul odours emanating from a Sudbury pet food factory are planning legal action against the company, it has emerged.

Some people say they can’t leave windows and doors open, or use their gardens, during summer months because of the smell coming from Nestle Purina PetCare.

During the past two years, the firm has ploughed around £2million into measures to tackle the smell from its Chilton industrial estate plant.

The company, which is one of the town’s biggest employers with around 265 staff, is also about to trial expensive new abatement technology.

But despite the investment, the Environment Agency is still receiving complaints and wants “additional measures” to be implemented before the end of June.

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Specialist environmental solicitors Hugh James said they have now been instructed by 16 families in Sudbury to take legal action over the odour problems.

Gwen Evans, partner in the law firm, said the smell had been affecting nearby residents for many years.

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“The evidence we have seen suggests that residents have been exposed to an unacceptable level of odour from the site,” she said.

“People in these circumstances are entitled to compensation for what they have suffered in the past, and potentially an injunction to prevent the continuation of this nuisance in future.”

Last night, a spokesman from Nestle Purina confirmed that Hugh James had been in contact.

“At this stage it would be inappropriate to comment any further,” he said.

Resident George Buffham, among those taking action, said: “I have been through this a number of times and have documents relating to complaints I have made about the smell going back eight years.

“Although I attended the recent meeting and they talked about what they are hoping to do, I don’t have much confidence in them finding a solution after all this time.”

Local councillor John Sayers, who helped set up a liaison group to enable residents to talk to the factory’s bosses about the problem, said he was “very disappointed” that some had decided to take legal action.

“Several people have been complaining over a long period of time and I have expressed my concerns about the situation,” Mr Sayers said.

“However, I thought the company had convinced the liaison group that they are doing their utmost to come up with a solution to this problem.

“They have spent an awful lot of money and are prepared to spend even more to find a solution.”

He added: “The last thing we need is to threaten the firm when they are being so cooperative. If they decide to move away, that would be a disaster for the local economy.

“They have given an undertaking that they will trial some new equipment and I am very surprised and disappointed that people have decided to go down the legal route without giving them a chance to see if that works.”

The Environment Agency’s national odour technical advisor has been involved in assessing the technical aspects of the proposed improvements at Nestle Purina.

He said: “Whilst the action plan is being implemented, we are continuing to monitor the site and are undertaking regular odour surveys.”

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