Meeting Yorkshire Water… and the Foul Odours-Protest-Investment conspiracy theory!

Protest 3 masks

Photo: Rachel Cliffe

TONIGHT across teatime, residents representing the Stench at Saltend protest group will meet with Yorkshire Water who wish to explain the work they are doing to resolve the odour issues.

Using the power of social media the representatives have collected a list of pertinent questions raised by the public and will seek to formally raise these with the water company. At past public visits to the site, participants have been asked to don hard hats, goggles, industrial gloves and boots in order tour the facility and it is expected that this opportunity will also be offered today.

Whilst it is hoped that the visit will signal the start of better communications between aggrieved residents and the Yorkshire Water, it has not been enough to stop residents organising the next protest at the site gates. Organised after a popular online poll to ensure a maximum turn out, the resident PROTEST will take place on SATURDAY 22nd AUGUST 2015 at the gates of Yorkshire Water from 12pm noon until 2pm.

Bradley Robinson from the residents’ group urged: “Everyone is welcome to attend including children. And bring your banners, gas masks, and voices!” He reminded everyone that the protest would be a peaceful affair.


The list of questions (see Facebook) raised by residents make the meeting tonight a key event enabling Yorkshire Water to hear first hand the concerns of customers who feel their summer experience, their enjoyment of their homes and property – and in some cases their health – has been blighted by the foul odours which have been variously described as smelling like sewage or ‘rotten eggs’.

The resident representatives, amongst other issues, will be asking about Yorkshire Water’s ability to reduce its capacity. Can the company reduce the amount of effluent from the sewers entering the site, and the amounts of sludge shipped in from other areas, in order to reduce odours.

Yorkshire Water have announced that they are shipping in tankers of odour-eating bacteria into the site to use in their odour control unit – residents ask whether that good bacteria could be stockpiled or perhaps even produced on site as a measure against future incidents.

Significantly, considering the protest group’s legend “Fix it, move it, or close it!” and Yorkshire Water’s assertion that “due to the nature of the site, there will always be some odours”, a question will ask whether a new site could be developed that is away from people and the Saltend Waste Water Treatment Works eventually closed down.


Hedon Blog comment:

In light of the current odour incidents when Yorkshire Water say “we have received more concentrated volumes of waste water in a short period than we have ever received before. At several points the works has been receiving flows of waste water far beyond the capacity it was designed to treat”, then it will be the case that Yorkshire Water officers responsible for the site will be making a case internally for the investment necessary to ensure that the site can cope with expected future capacity. Councillor John Dennis has stated “Yorkshire Water would spend whatever is needed to upgrade the process and sort out the problem, even if that were to be in excess of the £17.5 million they have allocated over the next 5 years.”

Perhaps now is the time for the public, politicians and Yorkshire Water itself to raise the prospect for a ZERO-ODOURS solution to the problem of Waste Water Treatment which would certainly push the investment needed beyond the £17.5m indicated.

Jo and Zak Gardner

Protests led by Jo Gardner in Paull and others in 2011 resulted in the new £3.5m Odour Control Unit being built – part of a pattern, of protest, followed by Yorkshire Water investment

A pattern has emerged throughout the history of the Saltend works which sees odour incidents followed by a public outcry, and then Yorkshire Water invests in a solution. In fact a cynic would say that odour incidents have provided the context for expansion of the site. The time has now come to search for a solution that doesn’t just satisfy Yorkshire Water’s capacity and investment problems – but instead looks at it from the point of view of local residents, and the needs and necessities of local communities and businesses.

Nobody will believe Yorkshire Water if they declared a plan to design a plant that would eliminate odours completely, so at the company’s expense, an independent study should be carried out by independent industry consultants, monitored by public authorities, into a zero odours solution that could explore ‘fixing’ and developing the site (would this require additional planning permission?) but also look at other solutions that would involve a super site being built elsewhere. 

The Hedon Blog is aware, prompted by the heightened negative media exposure, that Yorkshire Water has received several enquiries from water industry consultants each with their own preferred options and ideas for resolving the odour problems. The skills and expertise do exist to design a site that is fit for the next century. And Yorkshire Water certainly has the broad financial shoulders to afford such a project!

Investment into how Yorkshire Water treats its waste water effluent – yes! But local communities through their resident and other representatives and politicians need to have more control over these long-term investment plans. 

19 replies »

  1. Just a question: Is the idea of utilising new technology and science to convert or rebuild the Waste Water Treatment Works into something that contains and neutralises odours still science fiction?

    I can understand why water companies would prefer it to be so; imagine the demand from communities across the UK and the world if plants that didn’t smell were possible! But just because the water-profiteers would not like it i.e the investment needed and the potential impacts on profits, doesn’t mean that odour-free works are not scientifically and technologically possible!

    In the article above, I state: “now is the time for the public, politicians and Yorkshire Water itself to raise the prospect for a ZERO-ODOURS solution to the problem of Waste Water Treatment”. I certainly do want this investigation into a ‘ZERO-ODOURS solution’ to be placed on relevant agendas.

    Yorkshire Water say that they have had some of the best consultants looking at the site to advise them – I would like to see the views of industry experts independently of any YW commission.

    In the 21st Century, I believe that odours from a sewage works are not inevitable. However, this will most likely cost more than the £17.5m currently stated as available to improve facilities. Public and political pressure on Yorkshire Water needs to be maintained to ensure that the investment needed is available – but as members of the public we need to be convinced that any ‘Saltend Waste Water Treatment Works 2’ will not stink!

    • Hi Ray, would you be interested in speaking to me? I am currently casting for the second series of a Channel 5 show and looking for stories to film. I look forward to your response and feel free to pass this on to anyone interested. Thanks, Jade – 0203 761 4714 or

  2. Dear stench fighters,
    As an ex resident of hedon, currently residing in Hull, I have on many occassions smelt the horrendous odour when passing to visit family and friends, and occasionally it can be smelt in certain past of east hull, depending on wind direction.
    As a previous worker in environmental health, I would like to offer any help in you plight! I have dealt with similar issues from an animal rendering plant in another authority. I am not saying I am an expert, or know any more than any of you, but I do have 12 years local authority experience, some legal experience, and feel competent to assist with this if you would like any further assistant.
    I have followed your progress over the years, maybe not in whole, but completely understand your frustrations that this matter is still a problem in a day and age were there is an abundance of techniques and procedures to deal with neutralizing obnoxious odours and prevent this from occurring!
    Kind regards
    Joanne fowler

  3. I received this email a few moments ago. My thanks to all the Stench Fighters

    Dear Sir/Madam

    East Riding of Yorkshire Council officers have completed their investigation into complaints from residents about odours from Yorkshire Water’s Saltend waste water treatment works. The investigations have been underway since 14, July 2015.
    It is considered that the odours do amount to a statutory nuisance affecting residents and businesses in the vicinity of the works.
    The council has now served a notice which requires the nuisance to be abated. Yorkshire Water have the right of appeal against this notice.


    David Howliston
    Environmental Control Manager
    Environmental Control
    East Riding of Yorkshire Council

    • Hi Julie, would you be interested in speaking to me? I am currently casting for the second series of a Channel 5 show and looking for stories to film. I look forward to your response and feel free to pass this on to anyone interested. Thanks, Jade – 0203 761 4714 or

  4. Anyone seen the Life of Brian?….

    BRIAN: Are you the Judean People’s Front?

    REG: F*** off!

    BRIAN: What?

    REG: Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front. Cawk.

    FRANCIS: W*****s.

    BRIAN: Can I… join your group?

    REG: No. P**s off.

    BRIAN: I didn’t want to sell this stuff. It’s only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.

    PEOPLE’S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.

    REG: Stumm.

    JUDITH: Are you sure?

    BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.

    REG: Listen. If you wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.

    BRIAN: I do!

    REG: Oh, yeah? How much?

    BRIAN: A lot!

    REG: Right. You’re in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f*****g Judean People’s Front.

    P.F.J.: Yeah…

    JUDITH: Splitters.

    P.F.J.: Splitters…

    FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People’s Front.

    P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters…

    LORETTA: And the People’s Front of Judea.

    P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters…

    REG: What?

    LORETTA: The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.

    REG: We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

    LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

    REG: People’s Front! C-huh.

    FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

    REG: He’s over there.

    P.F.J.: Splitter!

  5. Hey up, all. Stop all ganging up on Phil Sherwood! Everyone is allowed their say! I think the key point is to make sure that the Stop the Stench residents group need to work very closely with local councillors and local politicians – Yorkshire Water would probably love to exploit any perceived divisions in the protest – Divide and Rule as they say!

    While there is certainly some cynicism aimed at local politicians, all of them are behind moves to eliminate foul smells from Yorkshire Water. Maximum unity is what is needed. And we will need to send our councillors with a clear mandate to attend local committees and meetings with Yorkshire Water and vote the right way! They are OUR representatives and will be heartened, strengthened and emboldened knowing there is such a strong community, resident-led campaign being waged. Unite against the Yorkshire Water smelly nuisances! (Rant over as they say).

    • I agree that we all need to pull together as a unified force. Red tape inevitably blights the actions of most councils and ‘official’ channels and councillors have to trudge through endless piles of the stuff. – But this massive community-initiated challenge has superseded anything that YW has encountered before. It is time for everyone to show their mettle and work as one to make change happen this Saturday.

  6. We have all been invited to attend the plant during the 15 years of the Stench history and the ‘clique’ as you call it Phil actually took the time to attend. I am sure if you ask you will be allowed to visit as they have public open days too. I agree everything else we have tried has fallen onto deaf ears and OUR face book group have made people listen, and if necessary we will make the country listen.
    If you can get anymore coverage or come up with any other method of making Yorkshire Water act then by all means get on with it.

    • Hi Julie, would you be interested in speaking to me? I am currently casting for the second series of a Channel 5 show and looking for stories to film. I look forward to your response and feel free to pass this on to anyone interested. Thanks, Jade – 0203 761 4714 or

  7. Phil, if you would rather see ERYC and elected councellors doing something about this rather than a “small clique” why don’t you spring into action and confront them yourself! Perhaps you could put together your own band of merry men and we could have a two pronged attack. Two cliques are better than one.

  8. Well Phil, I think most will agree that they would like to see our Councillors standing firm for us but if it is not, obviously, happening then do we just give up?? No. We stand firm as a community, not as a little Clique of Facebook users! If you live within the stench then you will benefit from any positive results this so called ‘little Clique’ achieve. If we don’t achieve then why not stand for Council in our next election and show them how it should work!

  9. Well said Kath, I don’t think the Stench at Saltend group want to do anything other than promote action from the appropriate bodies, hence the petiton to get ERYC to issue an abatement notice against YW. I joined because I want to support my community and its right to fresh air. Phil if you can help out at all please get in contact because as stated as an Admin group we are just members of the public like you and all we want is to try and make all our futures better.

  10. Think you should check your facts Phil Sherwood, we are not a “small” group of Facebook users, we are a very large group of residents from all round the Yorkshire water plant, who are sick to the back teeth of having our summers disrupted by this awful stench. We’ve left it to the “elected” members and it seems to me that they have done nothing, just allowed this company to carry on and do nothing to take them to task about it. Maybe, just maybe, now we have banded together as a group who are no longer prepared to put up with this, then the “elected” members might just DO something

  11. We have had 15 years for such action to be taken but we continue to wait. The ‘small group of Facebook users’ has only come about because of this total inaction. Well, enough is enough and if the creation of this small (?) band is what it takes to show that we can no longer take this ongoing blight to our lives, then so be it. Until something more productive comes along, this band is better than simply rolling over and doing absolutely nothing. If no one else is prepared to help, then there is no other option I’m afraid.

  12. There is no secret that Yorkshire Water want to expand and bring in more and more waste.

    A large concern of mine is how a little clique of unelected people are taking control rather than elected members of East Riding Council and Hedon Town Council. I’d rather see a committee of councillors and members of the public rather than a small group of Facebook users.

    • If you have any large concerns Phil then feel free to contact me or better still East Riding or Hedon town councillors. Firstly you are right, I was not elected by anyone, I stood up all by myself! Fancy that? Secondly I was invited to the plant by YW directly not as part of any clique! if you stand up too maybe they will invite you.

    • It is also no secret that during the past fifteen years the local population has spent a lot of time complaining amongst themselves and to their councillors, cancelling bbqs, re washing their laundry, using tumble dryers, purchasing air fresheners, feeling poorly, etc.
      In all that time, there has been a very limited amount of ‘action’ from those elected to act on our behalf. They have already had fifteen years to ‘take control’ but it seems that YW barely noticed their influence.
      I am grateful that the ‘little clique of unelected Facebook campaigners’ bravely stuck their heads above the parapet. And, on Saturday, more of us complainants will ‘stand up and be counted’ to take control of the ‘Stench’. Everyone who thinks that YW has been riding roughshod over the wellbeing of this community for far too long should be doing their damnedest to be there too! Otherwise it might be another fifteen years of waiting…

    • If there’s any reason why you don’t need politicians you just need to read Graham ‘Working Hard’ Stuart’s facebook post this afternoon on claiming his victory over Yorkshire Water.
      Sorry Graham but you didn’t work hard enough this time and it’s been people power that won out.

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