The whiff of ‘chokingly strong’ odours being smelt around Tonbridge have dashed hopes that a dispute with a local manufacturer had been resolved.
Drytec, a Morley Road-based specialist in spray-drying products such as aerosol deodorants, has been the subject of a 15-year campaign by neighbouring residents to force the company to take more action to prevent the noxious smells from escaping.
In March, the Times reported that campaigners were ‘cautiously optimistic’ after a deal was struck between the company and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council (TMBC). Drytec agreed to establish a maintenance system which it said would reduce the unpleasant odours.
It appeared to be working, with campaigners, TMBC and Drytec all agreeing there had been significantly less complaints during the summer.
However, George Niklas, a founding member of the campaign group, noticed the smells had returned in full force when he was out walking in the area behind Sainsbury’s, as well as in areas of north Tonbridge:
“It is so strong, it makes you choke sometimes. You have to smell it to believe it. It envelopes different areas of Tonbridge depending on where the wind is blowing,” he said.
Drytec Chief Operating Officer Matt Lloyd confirmed that the council had informed them of complaints on Monday October 3. The cause was identified as a leak in the exhaust ducting on the roof. He claimed repairs were completed within four hours of receiving the complaint.
Mr Lloyd described the incident as ‘regrettable’, but added that the company have received ‘one-20th of the number of complaints, compared to a few years ago’.
Mr Lloyd said: “Our goal is to be a good neighbour. We understand that this is unacceptable and we are looking at solutions that continue through to the future.”
However, Mr Niklas is sceptical of Drytec’s claims for future improvements. He feels the problems go much further than the factory’s exhaust ducting, comparing the recent repairs to ‘having a broken arm and putting a sticking plaster on it’.
Jane Heeley, Chief Environmental Health Officer for TMBC, said: “The council received a number of complaints regarding odours in Tonbridge during the early part of this week.
“Since then we’ve been discussing the issue with Drytec and we are aware that they found a small defect in their ducting, which we understand was repaired immediately.
“We hope that this has resolved the problem, but we continue to monitor the situation.”