Published: 13:49, 12 October 2018
| Updated: 14:35, 12 October 2018
A processing plant is reviewing its operations after neighbours complained of a "cannabis-like smell", with one claiming to suffer headaches and drowsiness as a result.
Barth-Haas in Hop Pocket Lane in Paddock Wood received the complaints as part of a planning application, which was looking to put up a hydrogen gas and chemical store on the site.
The company is the world's largest supplier of hop products and services, and also processes quantities of hemp to make compounds which are used to treat severe epilepsy in children.
It is this process that neighbours believe has caused the smelly fumes, and led to them formally objecting the proposals, which were submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council earlier this summer.
Deborah Luckhurst, of The Ridings, said: "I for one am suffering from headaches, drowsiness and tiredness - all the symptoms of being on cannabis, which I have never taken.
"I have spoken to the company's health and safety officer and was told 'our staff don't suffer any symptoms' - my reply was 'your staff have masks and protective clothing'."
Another neighbour added: "There already exists concern in regard to almost daily omission of fumes from the building, that are on report, causing health and well-being concerns."
Managing director of Barth-Haas' UK branch, Steve Bull, said the processing of industrial hemp may produce a recognisable smell, but rejected the suggestion this would spark psychoactive symptoms.
"I for one am suffering from headaches, drowsiness and tiredness - all the symptoms of being on cannabis, which I have never taken..." - Deborah Luckhurst
He said: "There's a number of different things being brought together here, and we're very careful to make sure we minimise the impact on everyone around us - both neighbours and the wider environment.
"We need to make sure we are not aggravating our neighbours and we take that issue very seriously.
"Clearly we are concerned that people are not feeling well, and we hope they get better soon.
"The hemp has an identifiable aroma and people might try and make a link, but there's a population of people who work here day-in, day-out.
"Nevertheless, if there's a chance to put in a bit more filtration equipment, we'll look at that."
Mr Bull also confirmed that the planning application was being withdrawn as it was no longer deemed cost-effective.
Instead, the company will be looking to develop the store in the US.
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