Resident shares horrors of living in the “rotting flesh” stench of an abattoir

Attleborough-based Banham Poultry was recently fined GBP300,000 for the horrific smells coming from its abattoir and one resident has shared her story of the eight years she has spent living in the "rotting flesh" stench of the abattoir. Diane Smith is a retired nurse who moved to Attleborough with her husband, John Smith in 2014. The couple were aware that Banham Poultry was there when they purchase the house, but they were told that it was closing down and relocating so didn't give it any thought.

But the couple had no idea that they were about to endure eight years of discomfort and confinement as the awful smell from the abattoir left them unable to open their windows or leave their house. Since they moved in, Diane has consistently made complaints to directors of the abattoir about the horrid smell, and since she began keeping a record of her complaints in 2019, she has made more than 40 complaints. In the worst incident on July 26, 2020, Diane was woken up in the early hours of the morning to the sound of her husband, who had recently been discharged from hospital after a major operation, coughing profusely.

Diane, who was sleeping in a different room, rushed into the room herself and began coughing. She recalled it being a hot night and so they had decided to sleep with the windows open. Get more local news from NorfolkLive straight to your inbox for free HERE

Diane said: "It was the usual smell of rotting flesh but overlaid with something like ammonia, a bit like oven cleaner, the kind of smell that really gets in the back of your throat. I rushed around the house and closed all the windows and then I reported it to the Environment Agency hotline. "They rang back the next day and told me that open trucks containing offal has been left on the site for three days over the bank holiday weekend when it was boiling hot.

It had all started to decompose and was stinking to high heaven. Whether they had tried to mask the smell by spraying it with some kind of chemical I don't know."

Blocked drains caused build ups on the floorBlocked drains caused build ups on the floor

Previously, Diane had written to the director when the plant was run by a different owner in 2016. She pleaded with them to do something about the smell but when she did not receive a reply, she went to the town council for help.

Diane did get a call from the director apologising for the smell but the same issues continued. "It's tiring and upsetting because we wanted to move to this area, we've got a lovely house and it was our retirement but we can't do anything to fix the smell. We joined a liaison group with some other residents to try and liaise with Banham but even when the owners sold up, the new firm was just as bad."

The outside of the building was damaged which allowed the smell to escapeThe outside of the building was damaged which allowed the smell to escape

Diane added: "During the lockdowns, the only place we had to go was our back garden.

The smell tended to be worse at the weekends, I suppose when there were fewer staff around and the on site environment officer wasn't there to keep an eye on things. So every weekend we were forced to close our windows and not go outside which was especially tough on my husband with his ill health and his only pleasure was sitting in the garden."

Holes were found in rusty wallsHoles were found in rusty walls

The last complaint Diane made was in March of this year, and she says that since then, things have got better and she regularly talks with the on site environment officer who she says is very good at dealing with her concerns. But Diane believes that the only way to solve the problem is for the abattoir to be moved out of Attleborough.

"It's an abattoir in a residential area and it shouldn't be there. It was only supposed to be there as a temporary measure but that was 20 years ago now. It was previously a cider factory so the only thing going through it was apples.

"The people here have complained endlessly and nothing has ever happened so I think they've given up. I always remember, my husband, before he was ill, went to London on the train and on his way back, a woman asked him to let her know when they got to Attleborough. A man sitting next to my husband said 'no need to tell you, you'll know when you're there because you'll smell it'.

The station is right by the poultry plant so if you stand on the platform you get the smell the whole time." In a statement, Banham Poultry managing director Hadleigh Farrer said: "Banham Poultry notes the regrettable historic environmental breaches under the previous owner in relation to odour originating from its site in Attleborough. Since being taken over in October 2021, the new management team have shown a commitment to being a good neighbour and are keen to play a positive role in the local community.

The EA have been pleased with the progress made since the new owners took over, and have endorsed the new team.

Blood was found on the floor in several areas of the abattoirBlood was found on the floor in several areas of the abattoir

"Banham will continue to work very hard to eliminate these issues in the future. A planning application has already been submitted for Station Road which will significantly improve the issues at the site, these plans have been shared with the EA and they are fully supportive of the new owners actions. Equally we will continue to have positive dialogue with local residents and the regulator."

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