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Romney Marsh smell blamed on more muck spreading

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

A strong stench in the air is driving visitors away from Romney Marsh, attracting flies and forcing residents to leave their windows closed, it has been claimed.

The odour has been lingering around Greatstone for several weeks and people in the area say it is affecting their quality of life, according to a former councillor.

Tony Hills, a former Shepway councillor, who owns Seagull Fishing Tackle in The Parade, Greatstone, said: “Everybody is affected. It is damaging the quality of life. It almost smells like acid. It has been a very bad year for this.”

Former Shepway District Councillor, Tony Hills
Former Shepway District Councillor, Tony Hills

Mr Hills said he hoped action would be taken quickly. “I hope the farmers will reduce the smell, and I hope the council will be more proactive about what can be done,” he said.

Shepway District Council previously reassured residents the smell was just from farmers fertilising land with poultry manure.

But a council spokesman yesterday (Wednesday) said: “We’ve received more complaints about the strong smell on The Marsh.

“Farmers are continuing to spread manure and the smells are not due to previous muck spreading but new activity.

“This is part of the farming process and takes place every year. We are limited in the actions we can take.

“We have spoken to the farmer and he is aware of the complaints. On Tuesday, he tried to address the matter by employing two tractors instead of one, so the spread was carried out quicker.

“A tractor followed behind these spreaders to dig the manure into the soil as quickly as possible.

“In future he will also try to carry out the spreading at the beginning of the week so that it should not have a greater impact on residents during the weekend.

“However as became evident on Tuesday this method doesn’t eliminate the smell completely.

“The odour will dissipate in time, but the dispersal rate is dependant on the weather and at the moment the heat and lack of wind means that smells are not being dispersed as in most years.

“If the smell persists for at least 48 hours after each spreading has been completed, our Environmental Health Team will investigate complaints.”

The smell blamed on more muck spreading
The smell blamed on more muck spreading

In reference to the muck spreading, the council had previously stated on its Facebook page: “This is an essential part of the farming process and an accepted practice by Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

“The council will ensure best practice is being followed by local farmers and the muck is incorporated into the soil within 48 hours of the spread.

“The odour will dissipate in time but the disperse rate is also dependant on the weather conditions.”

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