THE smell from an animal rendering plant is causing reputational harm to Bradford both “nationally and internationally” – a business owner has claimed.

On Wednesday evening, bosses from the Waddingtons rendering plant, off Hammerton Street, appeared before councillors and members of the public to answer questions about the plant and the smells that have long been linked to the business.

During a five and a half hour meeting, members from Bradford Council’s Health and Environment Scrutiny Committees also heard from residents and businesses who say the site and its odours have blighted their lives.

Waddingtons has been based in the city since the 1880s, and is one of just a handful of “animal byproducts processing facilities” in the country.

Animal products are transported to the site – on the edge of the city centre, from across the country, where they are recycled into energy and biofuels.

For years, there have been complaints about the smells produced by the plant, and Bradford East MP Imran Hussain has called for Bradford Council to do more to put pressure on the company to reduce its odours.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Jeff Lawrence, Environmental Health Manager at the Council, told members what happens at the plant, and what powers the Council has to control the smells.

He told members that the current rules for such facilities, set by Government, say, as long as companies could show they were implementing the “best available techniques” (BAT) to reduce odour, then they were complying with their permit.

He said the company had demonstrated that it had the right equipment to meet this BAT standard.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Council's Environmental Health Manager Jeff LawrenceThe Council's Environmental Health Manager Jeff Lawrence (Image: newsquest)

He pointed out there has recently been a Government review into the standards such facilities have to meet that could put tougher controls on companies like Waddingtons to reduce smells.

He added: “It is frustrating that we don’t know the time scale for the review. It might be worth writing to the Secretary of State, especially with City of Culture coming up. It is a pivotal year for the district, and a pivotal year for the Government, as they granted us this status.”

He added: “I understand the frustrations of the community, but we are committed to ensuring Waddingtons are complying with their obligations. But you have to recognise that we have to work within the existing framework.”

Alistair Collins – Operations Director, J G Pears Group, which has owned Waddingtons said the company employed 35 people on site, as well as 40 drivers.

He said sites like his were an “essential part” of the agricultural industry, as it disposed of the parts of animals not used in the food chain.

It also allowed for the safe destruction of diseased animals.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Alistair Collins – Operations Director, J G Pears Group and Mark Kerry, engineering and energy managerAlistair Collins – Operations Director, J G Pears Group and Mark Kerry, engineering and energy manager (Image: newsquest)

Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) asked what would happen to the company if the Government did introduce more stringent controls on the industry.

Mr Collins said: “We would then invest in next level equipment. But the whole industry would have to be treated the same. We have to compete with other companies.”

Cllr Ahmed said: “What is stopping you from making that investment now?”

Mr Collins replied: “If I had to charge more than other companies to bring materials in because our costs went up, we wouldn’t be in business – people would go somewhere else.”

Councillor Aneela Ahmed (Lab, City) said: “Every single person here – they are here because this is affecting their lives.

“Their children can’t go out into their gardens because of the smells. You can’t open windows. It is impacting people’s mental health. I don’t want to be sat here in five years time having this same debate. Something has to be done.”

Councillor Imran Khan (Lab, Bowling and Barkerend) said: “The way it has come across to me is that it is a commercial decision, to keep competitive you’re not going to invest in better technologies. You can do it but it would be expensive to do.

“People are struggling to go about their lives because of this god awful, gut-wrenching smell. It is having a massive impact on the regeneration of the city. Every business in the city centre is affected by it.

“It can’t go on like this.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Imran KhanCouncillor Imran Khan (Image: newsquest)

“If it were up to me I’d shut it down tonight if I could. And I’m sure if you could flip a switch and stop the smells you’d do that.”

One of the speakers was Amjam Saddiq, who runs the nearby Pasha restaurant. He said Youtubers and influencers regularly visit his business. He said: “When it comes to Waddingtons, the smells not only effect our business, but all businesses around Leeds Road.

“It influences people’s mindset about Bradford, both nationally and internationally.

“We call ourselves City of Culture – do we want this to be the first smell visitors come across when they visit Bradford for the first time? How can an area close to where they are going to build a £2b station move forward when you have that appalling smell?

“You look on Tripadvisor and people comment about the smell.”

Resident Sonny Ahmed said: “Is it going to be City of Culture, or City of stench?”

After five and a half hours of debate, the committee made several recommendations.

These included pushing for the Government to conclude its review of the industry as soon as possible and setting up a community action committee made up of residents, businesses and Councillors to document and discuss the number of odour incidents, how long they last and the impact on people’s lives.

Another recommendation was to commission an independent investigation – paid for by Waddingtons, to look at the impact of the plant on residents.

Members approved the recommendations.