Woolpit Whiff saga over after 25 smelly years

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IT HAS been confirmed that the pongy Woolpit Whiff will no longer pollute the air in several Mid Suffolk villages.

Residents can breathe a clean sigh of relief as council officials from Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) confirmed that the animal rendering plant which caused the smell has been decommissioned.

Planning enforcement notices issued by MSDC and served in September 2010 required that the rendering operation at Rookery Farm, in Drinkstone, must be closed down by March 11. The notice also specified that rendering equipment must be removed from the site at the farm, in Deadman’s Lane.

After a visit to the site last week, council officials confirmed that all plant had been removed from the rendering location, and that most had been cut up and removed from the farm. There are now no facilities, which could be used for rendering, remaining at the site.

The Woolpit Whiff was the cause of a long-running legal battle between farmer, John Clarke, and officials at MSDC, who received complaints about the stench from nearby residents for more than 25 years.

When Mr Clarke died in 2009, the Rookery Farm operation was taken over by his son, James. But after the 25-year-old’s tragic death on the A14 last year, the fate of Rookery Farm was unclear.

Residents in Drinkstone, Woolpit and surrounding villages have been plagued with the smell for a quarter of a century.

Cllr Penny Otton said: “Thank goodness it has now come to an end after all these years.

“The site could return to an agricultural use but we will just have to see if any proposals will come forward.”

The notice issued by MSDC means that the rendering operation cannot recommence lawfully without getting planning consent first. The current authorised planning use for the site is for agricultural purposes.