South Cambs villages “infected” by smell

VILLAGES in South Cambs are being “infected by noxious smells” from a former chemical site currently undergoing a remediation process, claims a farmer.

Robin Page, who is founder of the Countryside Restoration Trust, says villages including Foxton, Barrington, and Harston in Crow country are being affected by potentially dangerous smells coming from the former Bayer CropScience Site along the A10 on the outskirts of Hauxton.

Mr Page says that South Cambridgshire District Council (SCDC) has not taken sufficient action over the problem.

He has described how he recently had to retreat into his home in Barton when the smell got so bad he feared for his health.

“It was astonishing,” he said. “I couldn’t get my breath and it gave my wife a headache.

I had to use my inhaler because of the acrid fumes that were covering the area. My cows are calving and my sheep are lambing but they could not escape.

“I phoned South Cambs for an environmental health officer, but I was told that they only worked office hours and it was not urgent.

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“I was eventually visited 16 hours later when the weather conditions had changed and the smell had been dispersed.”

The site is being remediated by VertaseFLI for the building of 380 homes, 4,000 square metres of office space and 250 square metres of retail space by developers Harrow Estates, plans Mr Page disagrees with.

“I find what is going on at Hauxton totally beyond my comprehension,” he said. “The smell of chemicals can drift as far as Newnham, a suburb of Cambridge, and it has even been smelled in the village of Horningsea to the north of Cambridge. Local people have been ill, businesses have been affected.

Information on the SCDC website says work is being done to keep distress to residents down to a minimum, while they also say it is “unlikely” any health damage will be caused.

It satets: “There is a deodoriser system being used at the site to help control the unpleasant smells being released from the soil during excavation works.

“These are non-toxic and pose no harm to passers-by or to local residents. The contractor has been using a variety of perfumes, which so far have included ‘pine,’ ‘bubble gum’ and ‘summer fruits.’

“The human nose is very sensitive to odours, and many substances that are perceived as odorous are usually present at levels below which there is a direct harmful effect.

“Odours can however cause annoyance 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.”

SCDC advised residents to call the environment agency incident hotline on 0800 807060 if they are affected by the odour.