Cereal Manufacturer

Case Study

A small family business occupied a small, converted building within a builder’s yard, from where they conducted a cottage industry-type operation that involved the cooking, popping and packaging of cereal grain to produce breakfast cereals.  This builder’s yard was in the centre of a residential street and was surrounded by housing including a sheltered housing complex for the elderly.  The operation involved ‘cooking’ the grain in pressurised propane fired cookers, then releasing the ‘popped’ grain onto the floor within a ‘puffing’ chamber, and thereafter sieving and bagging the product.

The local council received complaints from the residents that the operation was noisy and smelly.  Their investigations concluded that the complaints were justified and that the noise and odour amounted to a statutory nuisance.  As a consequence, two separate abatement notices were served on the business by virtue of s. 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 requiring the respective nuisances from noise and odour to be abated within prescribed time periods.

David Horrocks was appointed by the business to undertake an independent assessment of the noise and odour issues.  He concluded that the complaints were justified and that a statutory nuisance did exist.  He then drew up separate programmes of measures aimed at mitigating the impacts from noise and smells and successfully negotiated with the council an extended period of time for these programmes to be completed.

The noise control measures related to improving the inherent sound insulation characteristics of the building’s puffing chamber structure.  This involved:

  • removing a dormer roof light and infilling the void with materials to match the original roof;
  • installing a secondary ceiling resiliently isolated from the roof;
  • installing secondary walls resiliently isolated from the masonry walls which obscured the existing casement windows;
  • replacing the lightweight door with a heavy duty ‘acoustic’ door.

The problems associated with odours were addressed in two ways: the minimisation of ‘fugitive’ emissions from materials handling outside the puffing chamber and the minimisation of odour release from within the puffing chamber.  The measures taken involved:

  • implementing an operating protocol to ensure that the outer doors to the building remained closed when puffing was in progress, and that the puffing chamber was sealed off from other parts of the building through closing the doors to the puffing chamber vestibule;
  • the installation of a sophisticated, balanced mechanical ventilation system capable of achieving 20 air changes per hour.  This allowed chilled and filtered air to be drawn into the chamber at one end and to be extracted at the other end at high level, whilst maintaining the internal temperature of the chamber below 300C.  The extracted air passed through a Chemisorb Filter comprising activated granules of aluminium and carbon impregnated with potassium permanganate providing the medium onto which the odorous gases were adsorbed over a residence time of 0.4 seconds;
  • an Odour Management Plan comprising weekly maintenance checks on the equipment and the regular replacement of filers and adsorption media, together with the completion of daily/weekly logs of visual checks/replacement of filters, pressure gauges and smell tests within the local environs of the site.

In addition to the enforcement action taken by the council’s environmental health officer, the council’s planning officer had issued a Planning Enforcement Notice on the site, since it believed that the business’s operations amounted to a B2 General Industrial use classification.  John Pointing advised the business that although there were arguable grounds to appeal against the planning enforcement notice, the better approach would be to negotiate with them to see whether retrospective planning permission could be supported by officers.  It was only possible to reach an agreement on the planning issue once the technical solutions designed by David Horrocks had proved successful.  After the works had been completed, the business was successful in obtaining retrospective planning consent for B1 Business use.

<< Back to Case Studies main page

  • Our Services

    We can provide the combination of both technical and legal services to clients from local authorities, business, industry and other organisations. View the services we offer.more
  • Professional Training

    We have over 20 years experience running professional training events for environmental health professionals and lawyers for the CIEH, local authorities and industry.more
  • News Briefing

    View the latest news and information about matters related to Statutory Nuisance Solutions.more