Water company bosses told to stop the stink in Southend

Bosses at a sewage treatment plant in Southend have been ordered to stop the vile stench which is filling homes and businesses in the area or face legal action.

Southend City Council has issued Anglian Water – which manages the sewage plant in Stock Road – with an “abatement notice” ordering them to reduce the stink from the site by October 31 next year.

The notice follows a three-year council investigation and “requests Anglian Water Services Limited to abate and prohibit the recurrence of the smell”.

On Tuesday, councillors at a place scrutiny committee debated Southend’s “nuisance strategy” aimed at reducing noise and disturbances blighting residents’ lives.

Lydia Hyde, Labour councillor for St Laurence Ward, said: “We think about sound nuisance but one particular concern in Southend is around nuisance odours from the sewage works.

“Since being elected I’ve been working closely with my colleague Councillor Cowan thinking about ways to address concerns about nuisance odours from the sewage works. How successful has that engagement been? Are we seeking ways to eliminate some of the odours we’ve had over the years?”

Elizabeth Georgeou, head of regulatory services, responded: “We’ve served an abatement notice on the treatment plant.

“Because of the amount of work that needs to be done, it’s a massive investment, we are bound to give them a considerable period of time to comply and we are in that period at the moment.”

According to Daniel Cowan, leader of Southend Council’s Labour group, the stink from the plant has been blighting residents and businesses nearby for “quite some time”.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “There’s been an issue in the area that’s affected residents of St Lukes, St Laurence and bits of Prittlewell for quite some time. It took a number of years of very carefully collecting complaints and reports of nuisance odours. Last year, after a painstaking investigation, the council served an abatement notice on Stock Road and Anglian Water.”

Cllr Cowan added: “Anglian Water has announced it is making significant investments in a number of their waste treatment solutions and waste odour suppression technologies and we’re just hoping that’s going to improve things for local residents as well as all the people who work around Stock Road because it can’t be pleasant for them either.”

John Lamb, councillor responsible for regulatory services, said: “The council’s regulatory services team have investigated and identified a smell emanating from the Southend Water Recycling Centre in Stock Road. This has not been pleasant for residents living in the area and we felt it was necessary to issue an abatement notice to Anglian Water Services Limited which seeks to rectify the problem by October 31, 2024.”

Cllr Lamb added: “If they don’t comply we would have to take it up with them because if they don’t comply they could be in serious trouble and it could be a court case. It is telling them to stop.”

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: “Our water recycling centre in Southend receives tens of thousands of litres of sewage every day so keeping odours to a minimum is something we take seriously.

“We use special equipment and chemicals to stop unpleasant smells escaping into the air as much as possible. The nature of site, and the job it’s there to do means there will inevitably be some smells from time to time, but we want to be the best neighbours we can.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter