August 13, 2021 5.34 pm This story is over 33 months old

Over 200 Smelly Skelly complaints mount as council still seeks action

“Horrendous stench” continues to bother residents

Over 200 complaints have been received by North Kesteven District Council in under three weeks over the “horrendous stench” plaguing the village of Skellingthorpe and even reaching into Lincoln.

Residents in the village, particularly on Jerusalem Road, have been frustrated by the issue for two years due to the smell and noise coming from the factory run by A Hughes & Son – earning it the nickname Smelly Skelly.

Since July 27, a total of 205 complaints have been received by the council, which is a sharp rise from the 79 just a week ago.

The council went on visits to the site and asked the plant operator to investigate and submit further information within seven days, which has since been received and will be reviewed.

With this problem having been ongoing for a long time, and repeated complaints, it begs the question as to why a solution has not already been found?

A spokesperson for the council said: “The operator’s licence requires them to take reasonable steps and show due diligence in ensuring odour does not reach beyond the site boundary.

“On inspection, on-site odour controls were found to be operating correctly, but the problem persists of odour reaching beyond the boundary; the ongoing cause of which remains unclear.

“A review of further information requested from the operator demonstrating the measures they are taking to prevent odour emission will be undertaken.

“In the meantime, the council is maintaining rigorous monitoring and assessment of the situation and exploring the matter with other agencies. Residents can be assured that we are doing everything possible within our scope to assess and act in this matter.”

A Hughes & Son previously said the dead animals brought via lorries to the rendering plant are causing the unpleasant smell, as stock accumulates at the facility, while warm summer temperatures are not helping the situation either.

When The Lincolnite contacted the plant operator on Friday, August 13, regarding the situation and the council’s latest statement, they were unable to make any comment.

Old problem, new challenges

The Smelly Skelly nickname has been around for over 30 years, but the smell wasn’t always as bad, according to a local resident.

Mike Woodcock and his wife Margaret moved to Skellingthorpe around 34 years ago.

Mike, who is in his 80s, told The Lincolnite then the smell was a problem with a “horrendous stench” when they first moved to the village due to a nearby maggot factory.

He said when the factory was sold on it improved under its next ownership, but when mad cow disease hit it was closed and changed hands again to people who he said have “gone back to the old system”.

When Mike belonged to the village bowls club, they bowled in a league and he said all visiting clubs used to refer to them as ‘Smelly Skelly’ while playing at the nearby village green, so it is not a new problem.

Mike believes the problem is occurring because people are turning up with offal for the factory faster than it can be processed, saying: “It stinks to high heaven, it’s noxious and makes you feel sick.

“Nobody wants to close the factory down and we appreciate the important job they do, but we just want it to be operated in a fair manner and not involve the village in the stench as it’s now just as bad as it was before.

“I am disappointed that I can’t get hold of anyone at [the council’s] environmental health team, all I get is an automated message saying ‘we are busy at the moment’ and to leave a message, but I’ve never heard back.

“It is a lovely, beautiful village and people are very kind. We have fair amenities and local shops, and at our age we don’t want to be moving and shouldn’t have to think about it due to what other people are doing.

“I want them [the plant operators] to build a receiving plant so any offal not ready to be processed can be stored better there and not smell.”

The black substance is still damaging the cars and property of local residents.

Mike’s son Stephen Woodcock, 59, has also lived in the village for over 30 years.

He said the situation had been getting better until the last month and this summer, when the smell has been “absolutely horrendous”.

Stephen said: “You can virtually taste it, it comes through the windows, and you can smell it on your clothes.

“We all knew there was a factory here, but as it grows it’s getting worse. The hot weather doesn’t help and that’s when it’s at its worst.

“I wouldn’t for one moment say the factory has to go, and it’s employment for people, but something needs doing.

“I would never move away from the village and wouldn’t want the factory to shut as it produces employment. It was my choice to move here and I knew about the factory, but we shouldn’t have to put up with the wretched smell.”

Stephen added that before he moved to the village he lived in the Doddington Park area of Lincoln, and could even smell the stench from there.

Plans for a new plant

In February this year, plans were unanimously approved to demolish the existing animal by-products processing plant and build a new processing plant at the farm. The site is owned by Leo Group and run by A Hughes & Son, a company which was bought by Lincoln Proteins Ltd.

Meanwhile, we reported in May that Lincolnshire County Council will consider the re-submitted application for a controversial animal rendering plant in nearby Norton Disney.

Lincoln Proteins Ltd resubmitted its planning application for the facility at Villa Farm in Folly Lane after it was previously refused in February 2020 by Lincolnshire County Council amid concerns over heritage and location. Previous plans also prompted protests by residents who campaigned to “say no to the stink”.