10 010 095

Category : Environment and regulation > Noise

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 22 Mar 2012

Summary

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council delayed unreasonably in dealing with noise and smell nuisance from a foundry. 

The complaint

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council delayed unreasonably in dealing with noise and smell nuisance from a foundry. The Ombudsman said it failed to properly consider how it could control nuisance from the site, and took too long to issue a permit to operate.

She said: “I have considered the circumstances of those living in the vicinity of the foundry and taken into account descriptions from local residents. I conclude that many households have been caused unnecessary disturbance but I consider those closest to the site will have been most affected.” The Council has agreed to implement her recommendations that it should pay £250 to each of the 27 households she identified as most affected, and £250 to the man who complained on the residents’ behalf.

A man complained on behalf of local residents that there had been unreasonable delay by the Council in controlling and taking action to limit noise, smell and other disturbance from a foundry. In March 2007 the Council issued a noise abatement notice that took effect from 31 December 2007. Also in March 2007 the foundry applied for a permit to operate under new regulations (that came into force in April 2008). The Council appointed consultants to advise on the application and in March 2009 the Council was considering issuing a permit. There was then a period of consultation and the final permit was issued in May 2010.

The foundry could not operate within the terms of the conditions on the permit, and activity at the site ceased on 31 December 2010.

Finding

The Ombudsman found maladministration causing injustice because the Council:

  • took over a year to appoint consultants to advise on the application for a permit, over a further year to decide formally to grant the permit, and nearly a year more for the consultants to complete drafting the conditions that needed to be applied before the permit was issued
  • during this period the Council took no action to control the nuisance, such as issuing abatement notices or taking enforcement action, and
  • the delegated procedure for taking the decision about the permit lacked transparency, causing local residents to lose an opportunity to make their concerns known in public to a committee of local councillors.

Recommendations

The Council agreed to implement the Ombudsman's recommendations that it should pay £250 to each of the 27 households identified as most affected, and £250 to the man who complained on the residents’ behalf.

Remedy agreed with Council prior to publication: 22 March 2012

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