Animal waste factory hit with record fine

5 October 2012 in Business and Community safety
An animal waste factory has been hit with a record fine after residents living nearby in Silvertown and Britannia Village complained of a vile stench.
John Knight Ltd, an animal rendering plant in West Silvertown, Newham, East London, was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £66,150 costs at Thames Magistrates Court on 2 October.

This is believed to be the biggest fine ever achieved by a local authority for an offence of this nature.

During 2011, the Council received about 300 complaints from members of the public alleging odours from John Knight. The issue was taken up vigorously by local councillors.

The company was found guilty of nine counts of failing to properly prevent emissions of offensive odours beyond the factory boundary in breach of its regulatory Environmental Permit.

In his summing up, District Judge Mr Lucie referring to witness statements from local residents mentioned the ‘persistent rank odour emanating from John Knight'. Another resident ‘frequently noticed a smell which I describe as dog food, time expired food and rotten meat. Sometimes I notice the smell on a daily basis, other times only occasionally during the week.'

It is the third time the company has been prosecuted. They were fined £10,000 with £10,500 costs in 2009. Stratford Magistrates’ court then heard that an enormous pile of rotting meat was left outside when it should have been stored in properly controlled conditions. In 2011, John Knight were fined £75,000 with £75,000 costs for failing to control the emission of offensive odour from the factory

Newham Council’s Cllr Unmesh Desai, executive member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said: “We hope this acts as a strong deterrent. Businesses should not be carried on at the expense of local residents".

"Our residents have rights and one of them is to enjoy their lives in peace and without a nuisance.

"This is the third time we have taken John Knight to task and that’s three times too many in our book. The company needs to get its act together. Our residents should be able to live their lives in comfort free from these foul smells.”

John Knight, part of the Prosper De Mulder group, has operated an animal rendering plant in Silvertown for over 100 years. The factory takes waste meat and ‘renders’ it - effectively cooking it - to produce tallow (animal fat) and meat meal (an ingredient of dried pet food).

This process requires a permit from the local authority pursuant to the pollution prevention and control legislation.

Concentrated or ‘foul’ odour is meant to be controlled as part of the regulatory permit held by the company; however, the odour control methods used were inadequate to deal with the offensive smell.

There were scores of complaints to the council from residents over a period of summer months. One described the stench as “a repugnant, distasteful, rancid odour that smells exactly like meat that has gone off ... distinctive, rancid, pungent smell of rotten flesh”.