Leeds businesses complain of 'toxic' smell from AWM waste site as Environment Agency 'closely monitoring'

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Businesses in Leeds have complained of a “rotten” smell that they claim is coming from a waste management site.

Italian restaurant Capri At The Container on Pontefract Road in Stourton say that customers are complaining about the lingering smell of “sewage” coming from the Associated Waste Management (AWM) site across the road and claim it is impacting their business.

A manager at a garage on the same site who is pregnant said that she has had to leave work early on a number of occasions due to the “toxic” smell.

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AWM said it is investing £1m in the site towards upgrading its odour management system and that the company wants to resolve any issues “at pace”.

James Hardisty

The owner of the garage on the site, Robert Knowles, accused the company of managing its waste in the open air and not closing doors; which contravene the planning conditions laid out when approval was given.

Leeds City Council has confirmed that it is investigating an alleged breach of its planning conditions, while the Environment Agency has confirmed it is “closely monitoring the site”.

The owner of nearby Capri at the Container, Paymen Karimi, said the issue has been ongoing since he opened the restaurant two years ago.

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Mr Karimi said: “We have a beautiful balcony and terrace area but people won’t sit outside because of the smell.

“It’s been very busy but people won’t sit inside while the door is open. Sometimes customers come in and say ‘something smells’.”

James Hardisty

He added: “They keep saying it’s going to get sorted but it’s not. It’s getting worse.

“It sticks in your nose for hours after.”

Sinead Peach, the manager at Vision Motors Direct, is due to give birth in October and said that the smell “turns my stomach”.

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She said: “When I drive down here in the morning you can smell it straight away.

“We can’t have the windows open. It’s having a knock on effect on customers and I’m having to go home early.”

James Hardisty

Mr Knowles said that he and other businesses owners in the vicinity have complained directly to AWM.

A spokesperson for AWM said: “Upgrades to the odour management system at the Valley Farm Road site are work in progress and form part of a £1m investment in this facility.

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“Additionally, we are currently exploring further technology which will include the automation of door opening/closing processes.

“Whilst there has been a delay in commissioning, for a variety of reasons, we are working hard to conclude these as quickly as possible with our supply chain.

“Our commitment to community partnership is priority and we are keen to resolve any issues at pace.

“As a team, we are happy to connect with stakeholders so that progress can be updated, and a partnership relationship restored.”

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A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “We are aware of concerns relating to odours arising from the waste management site operated by Associated Waste Management (AWM) at Valley Farm Road in Stourton.

“The council has investigated the concerns and established that a breach of planning control was taking place, with strong odours from the waste management operation being detected outside of the site.

“The council served a breach of condition notice on AWM on June 19 to force compliance with the approved odour mitigation measures contained within the relevant planning permission for the site.

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“The period for compliance with the notice runs until July 19. We will review progress at the end of this period and consider what, if any, further action is required.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "We take all reports of environmental pollution, including odour, seriously and recognise the impact that it has on communities.

“Our officers are closely monitoring the site and working with the operator to help ensure that necessary steps are taken minimise odour pollution.

“We would like to encourage members of the public to continue to report odour issues to our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

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