‘Vomit inducing’ stink in Bellarena

Residents in Bellarena say they are being forced indoors by a “vomit inducing smell” from nearby land.

One resident who lives near the train station claimed the “disgusting” smell is from human slurry being spread close by. She said the issue arose last year and is really bad when the wind blows in a certain direction. The woman claimed windows in the house have to stay shut.

“It’s been really strong this last week. It’s so bad that clothes on the line have to brought back in and washed again because the smell just seems to stick to them,” said the resident.

Having grown up in the country and on a farm, the resident said: “I’m not adverse to farm smells, but this is really bad.

“It’s actually making my children gag. The other night I couldn’t even eat my dinner in the kitchen it was so bad.”

The resident had this message for those involved in causing the smell.

“If this was on their back door they wouldn’t like it. They must realise we all have to live together.”

Sinn Fein councillor in Magilligan, Paddy Butcher, said he had been contacted about the issue on Monday.

“I have visited the site and the odour is absolutely nauseating. I raised the matter with Limavady Borough Council’s Environmental Health officer and I was surprised to learm this waste disposal activity is in fact licensed and regulated. For the record, may I make it crystal clear there is no suggestion of illegal activity.

“For my part I am concerned, that the licensing authority has not been more senstive and taken into consideration the effect on people living in the community, particularly those with young children in the house. Magilligan is an area of natural outstanding beauty and is no place for this sort of activity.”

An officer from Council’s Environmental Health Department visited the site on Wednesday following a complaint about the spreading of “human sludge at Bellarena”.

A spokesperson said: “Sewage sludge treatment is taking place at the top of the Broad Road (also known as the Coleraine Mountain Road). The process is carried out by the company Portcullis who are receiving the sewage sludge from Northern Ireland Water. Lime is added to the sludge on site to reduce the bacterial load and stabilise it before it is either stockpiled or given to farmers for application to land.

“Ideally, the sludge would be incinerated but when there are issues with the incinerator the sludge is treated at the quarry. This operation at Broad Road is regulated by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and complaints received by Council in relation to the operation at the Broad Road are referred to them.

“In relation to the spreading of sludge on land there is a closed season from 15 October - 31 January during which the spreading of sludge on land is prohibited.

“The application of sludge to land is permitted by the Sludge Use in Agriculture Regulations Northern Ireland 1990. It can be applied and ploughed in by farmers, but it is permissible for application to grassed land with no ploughing in. There are several conditions with regard to the application. Soil must be tested before application to ensure it is suitable for this use. These regulations for application are enforced and controlled by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). Certain stipulations also apply if the application of sludge is in the vicinity of a watercourse, field drains, water abstraction point or private water supply.”