Stink of the dump: Neighbours’ anger over ‘disgusting’ heatwave waste stench
Town Hall accused of mismanaging recycling plant after residents were sick in their homes
27 July, 2018 — By Emily Finch
Mickey O’Brien outside the waste recycling centre: ‘No one can open their windows’
A “DISGUSTING” stench from a waste recycling plant is ruining lives and has led to people throwing up in their homes during the summer heatwave.
Furious residents living near Islington Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, off Caledonian Road, lashed out at the Town Hall, accusing the council of mismanaging the site at a heated meeting on Wednesday night.
Alexandra Considine, who lives on the same road as the centre, said: “I came home from holiday and was almost sick. You can be walking up Caledonian Road and throw up from the smell. It’s disgusting.”
Others said they worried that their health was being affected by the stench, which they say is the worst it has ever been this year and can hit at any hour of the day.
Award-winning architect Sarah Wigglesworth, who lives and works a stone’s throw from the plant, criticised the council for building the centre in such a densely-populated area. She has long complained to the Town Hall of the smell since the centre relocated during Arsenal’s stadium redevelopment in 2004.
She told the meeting: “Your engagement with the public has been woefully inadequate. This is the first meeting anyone has every called about it [the smell].” She added that the “only thing we can do” is to take Islington Council to court on environmental grounds.
The meeting at the Ringcross estate was attended by a project manager from the Town Hall alongside housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward, and Labour ward councillor Paul Smith.
Ms Wigglesworth said: “The centre is in the middle of an incredibly densifying area, with more and more housing being built, including student accommodation. There are more and more demands on the waste system. It is inappropriate [to have the centre there]. You should never have given it planning permission.”
Business owners working near the site came to the meeting in solidarity with residents.
Nigel Scott, who works for Shingles Support Society in North Road, said: “There are over 200 businesses where I work. I have been in that building for over 20 years. I was surprised when Islington built a waste plant in the middle of housing.
“We didn’t get consulted as office tenants because we weren’t residents. We’ve noticed a bit of smell from time to time but this year it’s got noticeably worse, and not just with the hot weather. It’s been going on since March.”
Residents asked why the smell had got worse in recent years and if the plant was processing more waste than before.
The council project manager said he did not believe the centre was processing more waste than before. “Nothing had changed” in the management of the site in recent years, but he admitted that the population of the borough had dramatically increased.
Cllr Smith said he agreed the stink was a “public nuisance”, adding: “We think it’s a problem. We want to solve it. We want to hear what is happening to your lives. This is the start of the process.”
A council spokesman said: “We are really sorry for the smell coming from the Waste and Recycling Centre in Cottage Road.
“The exceptionally hot weather over an extended period of time is causing household waste to produce higher levels of odour than usual, but there are no increased risks to health as a result, and the issue has nothing to do with the design of the facility – it is purely down to weather conditions.
“We have odour suppression systems in place and a comprehensive cleaning regime to minimise smells escaping from the facility.
“We are working with our waste transfer partners on an improved longer-term solution of odour suppression at the depot, and have temporary measures in place which are helping in the meantime. Again, we sincerely apologise and thank residents for their patience.”
‘Children can’t play on the balconies’
MUSICIAN Mickey O’Brien, who lives a stone’s throw from the waste centre, described the stench as “someone burping in your face but heated up with a hair dryer”.
Ms O’Brien said: “There’s so much social housing right next to the centre. Children can’t play on their balconies. Last night it was 27 degrees but it stank. I couldn’t open my window. All along this street no one can open their windows. I think with climate change it’s going to smell worse and worse.”
She said the smell yesterday (Thursday) morning outside her house was still “awful”, despite the meeting the day before.
John Young, a scrap metal dealer working off Caledonian Road, said he didn’t think the Town Hall would do anything to deal with the problem. He said: “Nobody will give up their time for this matter.”