A LANDFILL site in North Swindon has temporarily closed while a solution is found to the smell which has been plaguing residents for over a year.
Hills Waste Management, which runs the Chapel Farm site close to Blunsdon, has apologised to residents and said it is taking action to fix the problem.
Residents from Oakhurst across to Blunsdon have complained of the intermittent odour, which is described as being like raw sewage or burning rubber. It was hoped the problem had been solved when action was taken earlier this year but residents on the Priory Vale Facebook Group said, if anything, the problem has got worse.
Councillors have been in regular contact with both Hills and the Environment Agency, which has received more than 180 complaints in the past two months over the issue.
Yesterday, Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson contacted the head of the EA demanding something be done, prompting Hills to shut the site at lunchtime.
A spokeswoman said: “Hills Waste Solutions offers sincere apologies to local residents who have been affected by odours coming from the Chapel Farm landfill site and would like to reassure people that every possible action is being taken to try and bring this situation back to normal.
“Since receiving complaints of odours Hills has worked with the Environment Agency on a daily basis to understand the reason for the odour increase. “However, despite completing all the additional works agreed with by the Environment Agency, and undertaking substantial additional works which go over and above what is normally required of a landfill operator, the situation has not improved.
“Being mindful of the impact that the odours are having on local residents, Hills has made the decision to temporarily suspend landfill operations at Chapel Farm site with effect from Monday.”
There are believed to be about 10 areas on the site which need capping so any smell cannot escape, and tomorrow, further extraction wells will be installed.
Waste which had already left for the site will arrive throughout today but Hills has contacted clients to say the landfill is closed until further notice.
After the announcement of the closure Mr Tomlinson said: “I welcome the decision to temporarily close the site and we must absolutely make sure action is taken.”
Coun Emma Faramarzi (Con, Priory Vale) has been in regular contact with Hills Waste and the EA over the past year.
She said: “I first smelt it when we moved to the area a few years ago but it has gradually got worse. Hopefully, this is now the start of a long term fix. It won’t happen overnight but at least something is now being done.”
Resident Geri Taylor, 37, of Oakhurst, said: “It’s horrible and has got worse the last month or so. It used to come and go quite quickly but on Sunday night it came at about 9pm and was still there at 9am.
"When I took my daughters to school their classroom smelt absolutely vile. I am not convinced just shutting the site down is going to work as the gas will not just go away but at least we are being taken seriously now.”
It is not known when Chapel Farm will re-open but it is due to close permanently later this year.