Energy company ordered to pay almost £26,000 for causing ‘persistent odour issues’ at South Tyneside plant
An energy company has been fined at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court after it breached its odour management plan.
BioConstruct New Energy Limited, based in Stockton-on-Tees, has been ordered to pay nearly £26,000 in fines and costs at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, February 28.
The company admitted to breaching its environmental permit by allowing odour to be released and for failing to comply with two enforcement notices.
The court heard that its anaerobic digestion plant, which makes energy from waste food at Wardley Colliery, had breached its odour management plan, leading to unregulated and smelly gases being released and impacting local residents.
As a result, BioConstruct New Energy Limited was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost £10,000.
Andrew Turner, Area Environment Manager at the Environment Agency in the North East, said: “We understand how awful it is for residents to suffer when waste sites fail in their obligation to ensure there is no odour coming from their sites.
“Environmental permits are in place to protect the public and environment and this fine should serve as a warning that the Environment Agency will not hesitate to bring to court and prosecute companies who breach their permits and flout the law.”
The Environment Agency received over 25 complaints about smells coming from the plant on June 26, 2020, prompting officers to attend and verify the reports.
Site management said there were issues with the company’s emergency gas flare, which operates as a fail-safe to burn off excess gas, and due to this, the pressure release valve had operated.
This releases raw, smelly gas into the atmosphere in an emergency to prevent an explosion.
The Environment Agency found several breaches of the company’s odour management plan, including a failure to properly maintain the gas flare.
Further inspections in 2021 found that odour caused by the plant continued to be an issue and the Environment Agency issued two enforcement notices to bring the plant back into compliance.
Neither of the notices were complied with by the deadlines set, with the company stating supply chain issues had caused delays.
The court accepted that the company had shown remorse, accepted responsibility and that the offending was not commercially motivated.