Source of mystery Lyde Green smell remains elusive

Just what is causing the stench that residents in Lyde Green and Emersons Green regularly complain about?

This week the Environment Agency says the lines of inquiry it is looking at include an old landfill site at Lyde Green and old coal mine workings in the area.

Local councillor Colin Hunt told last Thursday’s meeting of the Downend, Bromley Heath & Emersons Green Community Engagement Forum that the source of the smell remains a “mystery”.

The smell comes and goes quickly and is said to be particularly bad at night. It was described by residents at the meeting as being like methane and some locals are concerned that it might be harmful to health.

We reported last year that the landfill site at Shortwood Quarry had been investigated by the Environment Agency and the operator Enovert was told to upgrade its landfill gas extraction system after an increase in odour complaints. The Environment Agency also said last year that it was investigating other activities in the area which could also give rise to similar smells and ordered the abattoir at Westerleigh to make improvements to its ventilation system to reduce the release of odour from their operation.

Work on the landfill site at Shortwood

But a bad stench continues to bother residents and Cllr Hunt said work was ongoing to try to solve the problem.

People at Thursday’s meeting said that before building work began on the Lyde Green estate, there was no problem with a smell in the area.

This week the Environment Agency told us it has been investigating residents’ odour complaints since May 2018.

“The smell has been described as rotten eggs and tends to happen after dark, which makes checking any permitted activity in the area to find the source difficult. This, combined with the infrequency of the smell and the intensity not matching the location reported, adds to this difficulty.

“We regulate three operators in this area who have cooperated with us to change their working practices and cut the risk of creating odours:

“Effluent from an abattoir was passing through the sewer under Westerleigh; this will be redirected by Wessex Water, and the abattoir has improved its ventilation and filtration to cut odour.

“More landfill gas which is collected in underground wells is being burned by the Shortwood Landfill site operator, thanks to more boreholes added to the extraction system. Other steps taken include resealing a number of these gas wells, replacing a leachate storage tank, new covers for some leachate wells to stop gas escaping, and parts of the site that are full will be permanently capped to contain gas and odour.

“We are checking to see if an old landfill site at Lyde Green is still emitting landfill gas. Waste is being excavated so the land can be reclaimed for housing.

“This area once had coal mines, with shafts described as ‘odorous and sulphurous’ in historic documents. One mine was called ‘Old Stinker’. Odour has been noticed by springs in Lyde Green but a connection between them and mining has not been proven. But monitoring is ongoing.

“Our investigation to find the source of this odour is ongoing and we thank residents for continuing to alert our 0800 807060 hotline when it occurs.”