Northern Ireland

Tyrone residents kick up stink over odour from mushroom compost plant

The Northway Mushroom plant in Ballygawley Co Tyrone

Residents of a Co Tyrone village will hold a protest on Saturday outside a £25m manufacturing plant that turns poultry litter into mushroom compost.

A group called Cabragh Concerned Residents Association (CCRA) claims strong odours from Ballygawley-based Northway Mushrooms is affecting their physical and mental health.

They plan to hold a protest outside the Aughnagar Road facility on Saturday morning.

They accuse their local council and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) of a “lack of action” in dealing with their complaints about the foul smell.

Residents plan to hold a protest on Sunday

Northway Mushrooms said its plant is “operated to the highest standards” and regulated by NIEA, whose staff carry out “regular, unannounced inspections” to ensure compliance.

It described its facility as “world class” and “supports jobs throughout the island of Ireland”.

NIEA has said it “continues to engage with local stakeholders about their concerns” and is collaborating with Mid Ulster District Council and the Public Health Agency to “promote a co-ordinated response to local concerns”.

The agency said it monitors the site on a regular basis and is investigating “reports of odour”.

“NIEA will take any further necessary and proportionate enforcement action in line with the department’s enforcement policy,” a statement said.

Mid Ulster District Council said it was aware of the odour issue and has been working with the residents regarding its investigation of potential breaches of environmental guidelines.

But residents said they were mounting Saturday’s picket at the factory out of “frustration” over the public bodies response.

“After four years, we all feel that the agencies have not done enough to improve the odour or to penalise Northway for causing severe air pollution to our locality,” a CCRA spokesperson said.

“Our local primary school and sports facility are both heavily impacted by the odour from the plant — children are often unable to go outside on their break and teachers are unable to open windows to allow air into the classrooms — this affects 205 children.”

Independent republican councillor Kevin McElvogue said that local people “feel let down by the agencies”.

Mr McElvogue added that the odour is so bad at times that children attending a local primary school have been removed from the playground while training at a local GAA club, Killeeshill St Mary’s, has been postponed.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that people can’t sleep in bed at night and leave their windows open and hang out their clothes on the line - they have to rewash their clothes,” he said.

“It’s coming into the summertime and people can’t gather outside their homes.

“People have been living here their whole lives and this starts, it’s unacceptable what is happening here.”