The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) acknowledges the impact odour can have on communities, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown.
We take complaints of odour from Drax SMW Ltd’s sludge treatment plant at Daldowie seriously and are actively working with the operator to address the issues and secure compliance.
We have developed this page to share details of SEPA’s ongoing regulatory activities and progress at the site with residents of Newton Farm.
Latest updates (9 June 2020)
SEPA has received a significant number of complaints from Newton Farm residents about odour from Drax SMW Ltd’s sludge treatment plant at Daldowie from 30 May to 7 June.
We are clear that the Operator is responsible for meeting environmental obligations under the permit and have alerted the site to each complaint.
SEPA has previously investigated potential sources of odour on the site. Further to that investigation, the releases from the three stacks for the RTOs remain the main source of odour from the site and the source of complaints. Therefore, SEPA is continually in discussions with the Operator to ensure the long term solution as required by the Enforcement Notice compliance is delivered by September 2020.
Since 24 April 2020 we have deployed to the area on five separate occasions. Offensive odour was substantiated on three of these visits. SEPA is aware of the significant loss of amenity that the community is experiencing at this time. The information we are gathering will inform our ongoing investigation and any further enforcement action we may take.
In the meantime they are continuing to employ interim odour abatement measures. On Sunday 31 May the site began using odour neutraliser at the top of the stack. Since April action has been taken at waste water treatment works within the Clyde network to reduce the volume of sludge being supplied to the site. Given recent complaints, SEPA is having ongoing discussions about the effectiveness of these measures and what, if anything, further can be trialled.
Please continue to inform SEPA when offensive odour is present and we will use this information to inform our investigations. Like many organisations our contact centre is currently working to reduced capacity and so please report online via www.sepa.org.uk/report where you can.
For those who can’t report online, our contact centre colleagues are there to help, and will support you in taking pollution complaints. Likewise we’ll support them by ensuring they have a safe working environment.
Previous update (27 May 2020)
A spokesperson for SEPA said: “Every day we work to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we take all reports of pollution seriously.
“In the recent spell of easterly and north easterly winds, we have received a number of odour complaints from the Newton Farm community. The majority of these have described a burning odour, linked to emissions from the regenerative thermal oxidisers at Drax SMW Ltd’s sludge treatment plant. While we are satisfied that long-term abatement solutions are underway to prevent these ongoing odour issues, each complaint is being reported to the site to investigate so we can ensure any other potential odorous activity is identified and mitigated as soon as possible.
“We have also deployed field staff to assess the severity of the impact in the local area, while adhering to Scottish Government COVID-19 guidance, and encourage the community to continue to report offensive odour at www.sepa.org.uk/report.”
Ongoing work to reduce odours
Following SEPA's intervention, the operator continues to explore and implement interim measures to reduce the odour impact, pending installation of the final abatement solution. Sludge is being diverted or reduced on an ongoing basis and stack odour neutralising has been operational since 31 May 2020.
As required by a SEPA enforcement notice, SMW Ltd. will install new best available odour abatement technology by September 2020. Marking an investment of more than £2m, this will include an additional regenerative thermal oxidiser to provide additional odour treatment prior to release.
SEPA will continue to monitor the situation closely, including the need for any further enforcement action.
SEPA is also working with Glasgow City Council and Scottish Water to monitor any odours potentially originating from the adjacent sewage treatment works.
SEPA has published its SEPA COVID-19 Philosophy and overarching guidance on regulation during COVID-19.
During this period, SEPA will continue to:
- Engage with the operator on a weekly basis to ensure the regenerative thermal oxidiser installation and commissioning is on track for September 2020.
- Engage with SMW Ltd. and its PFI contract manager, Scottish Water, to identify all short and medium term mitigation measures which could be implemented until the long-term solution is in place.
- Follow up complaints received with the site. We will be unable to provide a personal response to each complainant, as we would normally have done when complainants request to speak directly to a SEPA officer.
- Undertake our investigation into ongoing non-compliance with the site permit’s odour condition and responding to environmental events.
- Encourage regular engagement between the operator and the surrounding community until works are completed.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I report a pollution incident?
SEPA's 24 hour pollution hotline is always available via our online reporting form.
Contact SEPA as soon as you become aware of a potential pollution incident so we can begin investigations early. Provide as much information as you can, including the location and any relevant details.
If the complaint is related to an odour it is very helpful for you to be as descriptive as possible, so that we can try and ascertain where it may be coming from. This includes details such as the time you detected the odour, where you were and what it smelled like.
- Can SEPA provide feedback on investigations into reported pollution incidents?
We will provide updates via this page when new information becomes available and will update you when interim measures to reduce the odour impact have been implemented.
However, we must be careful not to provide unsubstantiated details or prejudice any enforcement action we may take.