Odour emissions at Surrey landfill ‘unlikely’ to pose risk

Monitoring data at Redhill site shows air quality unlikely to cause harm, but   reduction in off-site odours advised

Odour emissions at a landfill site in Surrey are ‘unlikely’ to pose a health threat to local residents, an interim health risk assessment has found.

Public Health England report, which is based on air quality samples gathered by the Environment Agency, was published in response to odour issues at waste management firm Biffa’s Redhill site that have been experienced by local residents.

Residents have complained about odour emissions from the Redhill landfill site

Residents have complained about odour emissions from the Redhill landfill site

Members of the community close to the site at Patteson Court, Nutfield, complained about

the smell — which had been exacerbated by flooding in the area at the start of the year — while on January 21 the Environment Agency found Biffa to be in violation of its environmental permit for not ‘properly managing’ gas production.

However, the report found that hydrogen sulphide and volatile organic compounds from the available monitoring data are not high enough to be of concern to residents’ health in either the short or long term.

But, Public Health England advises that all measures are taken to reduce the off-site odours from the site, as they can ‘affect an individual’s wellbeing’.

It reads: “Odours can cause nuisance amongst the population possibly leading to stress and anxiety. Some people may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches or dizziness, as a reaction to odours even when the substances that cause those smells are themselves not harmful to health.”


Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has claimed the company is making ‘good progress’ in addressing the odour problems at the site.

Chris Hazelton, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: “I recognise the significant impact that the Biffa site has had on the local community, and welcome thefindings of the PHE health risk assessment.

“Biffa are making good progress in line with the Enforcement Notice we issued earlier this year, and the infrastructure and gas management work they have carried out has led to asignificant reduction in the number of odour complaints we have received.”

A spokeswoman for Biffa added there had only been a ‘very small number of occasions’ when measured levels of hydrogen sulphide would have breached an ‘Air Quality Guideline’, and that elevated levels were not persistent in nature.

She said: “Our off-site Hydrogen Sulphide monitoring continues on a daily basis with theresults shared with the Environment Agency. The results are highlighting fewer incidents of elevated hydrogen sulphide. Using WHO guidelines, which have been published by Public Health England, our data does not highlight any breaches of levels for hydrogen sulphide that could lead to untoward health effects.

“Our monitoring results continue to be posted on our Biffa webpage on a weekly basis and we remain in very regular contact with the Environment Agency discussing site progress and future actions.”


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