Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Neighbours living next to creamery say fumes are making them suicidal

World’s largest cheddar factory is making residents’ lives a misery: Neighbours living next to creamery which produces Cathedral City say fumes and pollution are giving them sleepless nights and making them depressed and suicidal

  • A cheese factory has been blasted by locals who say the smell is revolting 
  • Locals say Davidstow Creamery makes them ‘depressed and suicidal’ 
  • The factory produces a number of UK cheeses including Cathedral City

Residents living near the world’s largest cheddar factory say cheese really does give you nightmares claiming its fumes and pollution make them depressed, sleepless – and even suicidal.

Locals close to Davidstow Creamery say the revolting smells and noise coming from the plant has made their lives a living hell for years.

Among the well-known brands produced made at the factory, which is the biggest dairy one in the UK, are Cathedral City, Frylight, Clover and Davidstow Cheddar.

But despite a court order being made five years ago ordering the owners to reduce odour and pollution, locals say they remain still cheesed off by the lack of action.

The problems got so bad that last year a record £1.5m fine was issued after an Environment Agency prosecution.

Locals have complained the enormous Davidstow Creamery is omitting foul odours 

Jim Hunt, 69, and Kasia Turajczyk, 66, say the smell hit them as soon as they moved to the area

During the case at Truro Crown Court, the EA said the environmental performance of the company had been unacceptable ‘for too long and needed to significantly improve.’

And locals say that despite the fine, which was a record for the South West, they are still suffering to an unacceptable degree.

Couple Jim Hunt, 69, and Kasia Turajczyk, 66, of nearby Tremail, said they noticed something was badly wrong shortly after moving to the area in 2016.

He said: ‘People are getting angrier and angrier with every year that has passed. I can’t imagine how bad it is for people even closer to us. The noise every time you try and sleep, the smells every day, on and on for years. It can really get to you.

‘I am just really pissed off by the whole thing. Nothing has changed and it just grinds people down year after year. It is not just smells, it is poisonous gas, noise, you can not sleep, children can not play outside a lot of the time. It is bound to get people down.

‘At times the smell is so bad we have to close the windows – it was horrible. But despite the big fine from the EA, it feels like nothing really changed. Problems keep recurring.’

‘It is a smell all of its own and is unique. It varies – sometimes it is like a dead sheep, sometimes rotten eggs, sometimes sewage. It has made me feel sick.’

Ms Turajczyk added: ‘The noise is also terrible. I was lying in bed and could hear something buzzing. I thought farmers must have been doing something crazy in the middle of the night. It is madness and I couldn’t sleep at all.’

Other locals say they have started to feel suicidal about the position they find themselves in while others suffer headaches and nosebleeds due to the stench in the air and won’t allow their children to play outside in the summer.

Dairy Crest pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 of the charges brought against them and was fined £1.52M in June last year.

Delivering the sentence, HHJ Simon Carr said it felt like there was never a time without a problem and added he had been ‘moved’ when reading testimony from residents whose lives had been ‘blighted’ by odours.

The company on its website boasts it has been ‘perfecting our cheese here for almost 70 years, since the creamery first sprung to life on a former WW2 RAF aerodrome.’

And it has been huge commercial success with records on Companies House show in the last two years Dairy Crest Ltd made a profit of £185m.

Davidstow Creamery is the largest cheese factory in the world 

The creamery is owned by Saputo, a Canadian-based company

Mario, 66 and Janet Dabrowski, 63 say the factory smells like a sewer 

But despite the large profits being made from the site, locals say the firm has done little to appease their complaints.

Local resident Mario Dabrowski, 66, said: ‘It’s been an issue since we’ve been here and is ongoing with the Environment Agency. They have been liaising with the dairy but nothing ever seems to get done.

‘Every day people are commenting on how bad the smell is. It’s been going on since we’ve been down there.

‘We were not aware of it when we moved here but it can smell like a sewer. They have been fined but they are such a large company I don’t think it really bothers them too much. It’s worse in the spring and summer months when the weather is nice – as people just don’t want to be outside when it’s that bad.

‘It keeps you up at night. It is like a background drone and goes on and on.. The smell and noise all been bad.

‘There is a couple who run a tent company and they’ve moved because of it. They’ve had enough and just couldn’t tolerate it anymore. It often depends on the wind direction where has it worst.’

His wife Janet Dabrowski, 63, added: ‘The noise and smell are both bad but I think they smell is worse. One time it was so bad I felt ill.’

  A Saputo spokesperson has acknowledged the smells

Davidstow Creamery is the UK’s largest dairy processing facility.

About 1.3 million litres of milk is brought to site daily from about 370 local dairy farms.

About 1.2 million litres of treated process effluent is discharged into the upper reaches of the River Inny daily.

The Environment Agency said substances or products created during the manufacturing process are harmful to the environment, which means it is a regulated facility and requires an environmental permit to operate.

This permit has several conditions which must be met to minimise the risk of pollution to the environment. These include limits of the quality and amount of treated effluent that is discharged into the River Inny as well as odour and noise.

Among the offences it pleaded guilty to last year were releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a 2 kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016.

The company also admitted coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018.

It also admitted consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorous and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021 and numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.

It was also guilty of producing foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years and for failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on seven separate occasions.

The EA said that since the site changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent being discharged into the River Inny has been more challenging to treat.

‘We are aware of odour problems’

A Saputo spokesperson said: ‘We have undertaken a substantial programme of capital investment and operational improvements over the last four years at the Davidstow site. We are aware of a few neighbours still experiencing issues around odour and noise and further initiatives are underway to address this, which they are aware of.

‘We work closely with the Environment Agency (EA) – sharing plans and regularly reporting progress. Furthermore, we hold regular three-way meetings with the EA and local residents to update them on progress and discuss any complaints.

‘Davidstow residents are represented by the parish council, with whom we have a productive working relationship. We recommend speaking to them as they are best placed to speak on behalf of the broader community.’

The EA confirmed it has continued to receive complaints since the court case last year.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have received and responded to a number of odour and noise complaints in 2022 and so far in 2023 from Davidstow Creamery waste-water processing facility, operated by Dairy Crest Limited (owned by Saputo Dairy UK).

‘We have recorded multiple permit breaches for a variety of issues during that period including odour, noise and water quality and agree there have been unacceptable impacts from the site on local people and the environment.

‘We are requiring the operator to take steps to prevent or minimise these impacts now and in future.

‘In 2022, we prosecuted the operator for offending between 2016 and 2020, including for causing odour pollution, and we have ongoing investigations into offending from 2021 and 2022.

‘We will continue to monitor off-site impacts from this facility against their environmental permit, assess and where necessary respond to reports of pollution, use our regulatory powers to ensure the operator delivers the planned improvements as quickly as possible, and keep the affected communities updated on these matters.

‘The site has largely been compliant with water quality permit conditions over the previous seven months. We are, however, reviewing those conditions to ensure they adequately protect the River Inny.’

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