Criminal investigation into 'sickening' smell at Norfolk chicken factory

Banham Poultry signs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A criminal investigation into odour at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough has been launched - Credit: Denise Bradley

A criminal investigation has been launched into a Norfolk chicken factory after complaints about the "sickening" smell coming from the site.

News of an investigation into activities at Banham Poultry, Attleborough, was confirmed at Breckland Council's recent overview and scrutiny meeting.

Banham Poultry in Attleborough.

A criminal investigation into odour at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough has been launched  - Credit: Denise Bradley

Chairman Rhodri Oliver read a statement from the Environment Agency, which is leading the inquiry into odour at the Station Road plant.

Relaying the statement, Mr Oliver said: "As the council will be aware there is an active criminal investigation taking place regarding activities at the site.

"Therefore, the information we are able to provide at this time is limited to ensure the investigation in not prejudiced." 

He continued: "The agency are aware there have been concerns raised regarding odour from the site. We will continue to work with the operator and community in order to investigate and address these concerns." 

The Environment Agency said it had implemented an "action plan" with Banham to tackle issues which could be contributing to the smell. 

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The factory was issued an enforcement notice in October 2020, including warning letters for minor infractions of its permit. 

Banham Poultry in Attleborough.

A criminal investigation into odour at the Banham Poultry factory in Attleborough has been launched  - Credit: Denise Bradley

The investigation follows numerous complaints made by residents and Attleborough councillors who have experienced the unpleasant odour.

At the meeting, Attleborough town and district councillor Vera Dale said something needed to be done as quickly as possible. 

She said: "Banham Poultry are trying in some areas. As a resident, I do think the odour has improved.  

"But having said that, if you happen to catch it, it is quite sickening. 

"Banham need to continue trying to do what they are doing but, if you come down to basics, the factory is in the wrong place. It's right near a housing estate and there are going to be more houses built, so the matter is only going to get worse.  

"It is something we need to be on top of." 

Blaine Van Rensburg, managing director at Banham Poultry, said the company had invested "significant resources" to combat the issue.

He added: "Unfortunately, some of these investments take time to realise and have been delayed due to Covid-19. That said, we have made constant incremental improvements to our waste management.

"We envisage the odour abatement investment to culminate in April 2021, with additional extraction and scrubbing systems being commissioned."

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