A CONTROVERSIAL animal rendering plant is being investigated by Bradford Council about alleged breaches of odour controls.

As part of the probe, people living near Omega Proteins Ltd site at Erling Works, between Thornton and Denholme, have been asked to keep 'odour diaries' to log instances of foul smells in the area.

The company has also been warned by the Council that environmental health staff have noted "odour emissions beyond the site boundary" and it has been ordered to provide evidence that it is doing all it can to prevent them.

In response, Omega has strongly refuted allegations and it has stated that slurry spreading has been taking place in the area at the times it is accused of breaching environmental permit conditions.

In a letter to residents, the Council's environmental health manager Brian Anderson also states the local authority has expressed its "disappointment and concern" that the company has yet to make significant progress on the installation of a third bio-filter, eight months on from the company's original start date, and the construction of a covered trailer shed.

The letter continues: "I realise that this will be a frustration to many of you and you may think that the Council should hold the company to account for not building the bio-filter or the trailer shed.

"Unfortunately we have no legal powers to do that. The only pressure we can put on the Company arises when odour events such as those experienced recently have occurred."

The Council's stance has been welcomed by an action group and senior councillors have also urged residents to complete the 'odour diaries'.

Lynette Cadamarteri, spokesman for Stop the Omega Stink, said: "It's great news - it's a real step in the right direction and I would also ask people to send in their own 'odour diaries', if they have not received them from the Council."

Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council's executive member for housing, planning and transport, said: "We would urge people to fill in these diaries which will help us continue with evidence gathering.

"Unfortunately we have no legal powers to go to court regarding the company's failure to install a bio-filter or build a trailer shed, but environmental health does have powers when we have evidence of offensive smells."

And ward Councillor Simon Cooke (Con, Bingley Rural), who is also deputy leader of the Conservative group, said: "The more evidence the Council has to get this resolved the better."

In a statement, Omega Proteins Ltd said it would defend itself against any alleged breaches of Environmental Permit conditions at Erling Works.

"OPL disagrees with the allegation of breaches to its permit conditions and maintains that the site is operating to BAT (Best Available Techniques) with specific regard to odour abatement and management of raw materials," said a spokesman.

"OPL continues to work with Bradford Council, promptly submitting reports dealing with each alleged complaint received regarding odour. OPL maintains that the abatement equipment was functioning throughout the time that complaints have been received.

"Significant slurry spreading in the area has coincided with complaints received. This agricultural odour was noted by Bradford Council's environmental health officer when investigating the area, although mention of it is omitted from Mr Anderson’s letter."

The spokesman added the company intended to begin construction next month on the third bio-filter and that construction of the covered trailer shed will take place on its completion as "the two projects cannot coincide due to access limitations and HGV restrictions imposed by Bradford Council".