End to the whiff

DECADES of suffering in a picturesque village blighted by a foul-smelling odour could finally be reaching an end after a landmark High Court ruling. Relieved residents in Woolpit spoke of their delight after judges ruled the owner of Rookery Farm, which they blamed for the odour, had been using a rendering plant unlawfully.

DECADES of suffering in a picturesque village blighted by a foul-smelling odour could finally be reaching an end after a landmark High Court ruling.

Relieved residents in Woolpit spoke of their delight after judges ruled the owner of Rookery Farm, which they blamed for the odour, had been using a rendering plant unlawfully.

Mr Justice Newman, sitting in the High Court yesterday found in favour of Mid Suffolk District Council, which has fought a long-running battle against farmer John Clarke.

The decision paves the way for the council to put an injunction to stop the industrial rendering at Mr Clarke's farm. His right to appeal was also withheld, but the farmer vowed last night to scrutinise the judgment.

But community leaders spoke of their hope that the ongoing saga of the smell – which has been dubbed the Woolpit Whiff and has been blamed on falling house prices in the area – could be soon over.

Woolpit district councillor Ramon Melvin said: "I am sure the whole village will be pleased with the High Court decision. It has been a long struggle, but hopefully this will be the end of the Woolpit Whiff."

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Mid Suffolk District Council has long fought to bring an end to the smells coming from rending operations at Rookery Farm.

Mr Clarke had been granted permission to cook swill for his herd of pigs, but the livestock use ended in 2002 following the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The council then claimed Mr Clarke breached the terms of his original agricultural planning permission by carrying on with rendering after he took offal and other waste from food processing factories and converted it into fertiliser.

But Mr Clarke vowed to examine the High Court decision.

"The way the judgment has been worded seems a little strange and we will now have to look into the decision and see what it actually means," he said.

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