In August 2018, our daughter, her husband and our two very young grandsons came over from Ireland to stay with us in Ifield for a couple of sunny weeks. Of course it was lovely to see them but their visit was blighted by an awful smell emanating from farmland west of Ifield.

In fact this smell has become quite a familiar event in Ifield during August for about ten years now – some years worse than others and particularly bad in 2018 no doubt related to the hot weather. I know that this smell was noticed not only by Ifield residents but also people in Gossops Green, West Green and Langley Green. There is no real escape from it 24/7, inside or outside the home and it made some people feel quite unwell.

I have made a point of doing my best to investigate this over the years and to try to ensure that it does not recur.  Fortunately, the smell recedes after a couple of weeks and then other priorities understandably take over my life – till the following summer; it is difficult to get organisations and individuals interested in a smell that is no longer evident!

No doubt partly because I am currently the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability at the Borough Council, I was able to pursue the matter more systematically last summer.

As Cabinet member for Environmental services at CBC I was pleased to be able to take action to resolve this issue for Ifield and neighbouring residents. Cllr Geraint Thomas
Cllr Geraint Thomas

In fact, the smell is not animal manure, but treated human sewage which is delivered to farmers – willing to take it – to spread as natural fertiliser. Unfortunately, the sewage ‘cake’ (as I believe it is called) once delivered is left in huge piles for some weeks and what is called anaerobic digestion – which produces ammonia – occurs which is the source of the smell. Once it is spread on farmland, the smell dissipates quite rapidly. No one would want to interfere with the proper spreading of farmyard ‘muck’ but this is something altogether different!

In August 2018 and as in previous years, I found the pile of sewage cake and photographed it on farmland west of Ifield beyond the Crawley Borough boundary and in Horsham District. I was then able to find out who owned the land and that it was rented out to a tenant farmer.

I am pleased to say that the tenant farmer has recently assured the landowner that he will no longer use this sewage ‘cake’. So hopefully, this August Ifield and beyond will no longer be blighted by noxious fumes. Let us hope so!

Geraint Thomas

Labour Crawley Borough Council candidate for Ifield

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