Campaigners sniff an end to odour battle

Dan Hannan

A 15-year campaign to stop a Tonbridge company producing noxious odours which left residents ‘choking and breathless’ appears to be coming to an end.

Campaigners say they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a meeting last week with Morley Road-based manufacturer Drytec has resulted in a plan of action to prevent further air pollution which, they claim, persistently affects large areas of the town.

George Niklas, of Lyons Crescent, Tonbridge, said he and his wife Suzannah, and fellow resident Andy Norman, set up a campaign group after enduring years of foul industrial smells emanating from Drytec, which produces fragrances used in deodorant and food flavouring.

Mr Niklas said: “I can’t begin to explain how bad it has been. These emissions have caused an immense amount of suffering, and affected people right across Tonbridge, as it’s like a vapour that just hangs in the air and leaves people breathless and feeling like they are choking.”

“The vapours have also impacted local businesses as people have been going elsewhere to shop, such as Tunbridge Wells, because of the smell.

He now believes a breakthrough has finally been achieved following a recent meeting held at West Kent College with Drytec and members of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Environmental Health teams, but was concerned to discover there have been two further alleged incidents within the past few days.
Two years ago, Drytec had an environmental abatement order placed on it by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council.

The company has since agreed to establish a maintenance programme for a recently-installed air filtering system which it says reduces the unpleasant odours.

Matt Lloyd, General Manager of Drytec, who joined the company last year, said: “We have got to recognise the complaints that we have had over the years and do something about this for our neighbours and residents.

“We have made a significant capital investment in our equipment here in a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO), which takes out all the noxious fumes from processes.

“The company still has an abatement order against it in relation to the odours that are produced here, but we are working with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to comply with this.”

Jane Heeley, Chief Environmental Health Officer for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, said: “The number of complaints received by the council regarding odours emitted from Drytec has reduced significantly recently, and discussions between residents, the council and the new management at Drytec at the latest liaison meeting were positive. But we will continue to monitor the situation.”

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