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Southern Water Services Wastewater Treatment Works – Odour complaints massively reduced

Published: 16/11/2021

Following complaints from residents in the Kennington area about odours emanating from Southern Water Services Wastewater Treatment Works on Canterbury Road, Ashford Borough Council have worked closely with the Environment Agency to ensure the company undertake the required improvements.  

In November 2020 we served an environmental protection abatement notice requiring that Southern Water put forward a plan to address the problems. The Environment Agency also took action for aspects within their control. Since that time, we have been working with Southern Water as they put their plan into action.

The plan – which equates to a £3.5m investment - includes; covering of sludge tanks, monitoring and reviewing odour control plant efficiency, installing tankers venting abatement, installing storm tank cleaning systems, addressing the storage and handling of processed ‘cake’ (e.g. treated sludge), installing additional odour control plant, and decommissioning a disused open tank.

Based on information supplied recently to the council, the number of odour complaints made about the Ashford treatment site has reduced significantly (when comparing the period of June to September 2021 to the same period in 2020). While the number of Southern Water complaints for Kent has reduced by 44%, the data for the Ashford site shows a reduction by as much as 91%. Although the wet summer in 2021 appears to have generally contributed to a reduction in complaints, the large percentage difference for Ashford (47% above the rest of Kent figure) is believed to demonstrate the impact of the works and trials that have been completed to date.

Cllr. Peter Feacey, portfolio holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing said: “We are very pleased to have been able to work collaboratively with Southern Water on the issue and that measures have and are being put into place”.

“These actions already appear to be having an impact on the issues of odour from this site that local residents have suffered for a number of years. I hope that the remaining works will only act to build on the positive changes so far.”