spreading chicken muck© FLPA/ Rex Shutterstock

Having an Odour Management Plan (OMP) may seem, to some, like additional paperwork they would rather do without. But in many cases they are a legal necessity, and in others, they can be an essential line of defence in the event of a complaint by a member of the public.

As such, the Environment Agency has prepared a list of “top tips” for poultry producers on permitted sites, to help them ensure that all the relevant points are covered.

“An OMP is required where a site is within 400m of a sensitive receptor, such as a neighbour, and/or it has a history of substantial odour complaints,” says the EA document.

“Each OMP must be site-specific and achievable,” it adds. “The over-arching principle is that vague statements should be avoided. It is essential to say who, how, when, where and what follow-up actions will be taken.”

Specifically, the EA makes the following recommendations:

Dispersion of odours. The type of ventilation needs to be described and how its dispersion will help prevent any odour issues. Ventilation rates will need to be increased during warmer weather, and the birds’ welfare is the primary consideration. The higher the dispersion point (for example, roof vents) the lower the odour risk.

Dust. The OMP must give details of how dust is minimised, how remaining dust is controlled and how equipment and housing are cleaned. In particular, dust deposits around ventilation discharge points need to be cleaned up regularly.

Dirty water management. How stagnation is prevented is just one aspect. Descriptions are also needed of drainage management systems including collection tanks, drains and their maintenance.

Cleaning. Full descriptions must be given of routines that exist for all areas of poultry management, including procedures at cleanout, carcase removal, drain maintenance, feeding systems etc. The OMP must specify who is responsible for each activity.

Manure handling. More detail is needed, especially if the dirty litter is stored or treated on own land. Yards and roads must be kept clean, and litter stored as far away as possible from residential areas, and ideally enclosed.

Manure spreading. Odours are readily released when spreading. The OMP must explain the approach to spreading, avoiding periods of high humidity and light winds. Avoid evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

Fugitive emissions. Detail is required on how fugitive emissions such as leaks from doors, tanks, bins and pipes will be avoided or, if they happen, how they will be minimised.

Abnormal operations. This should cover contingency action plans and additional measures to be taken in the event of elevated odour pollution, for example hospital pens which may lead to elevated odour levels.

Review of the OMP. A statement needs to be included, committing the producer to an annual review into the effectiveness of the odour control measures. This interval may be shorter if there have been complaints or relevant changes to the site operations or infrastructure.

Risk assessment. Each OMP needs to make reference to the risk assessment of odour pollution, performed in accordance with Section 3 of the EA’s H4 Odour Management guidance.

Complaints procedure. This needs to follow the requirements set out in H4 Odour Management guidance, Appendix 1. It should show that the operator is aware of the way to investigate any complaint and record the outcome. An example of a complaints form should be included.

“Compliance with your approved OMP will usually be an excellent way of showing that your process is being properly controlled,” says the EA.

“It should clearly demonstrate your competence and commitment to controlling odour pollution. It should be apparent that you understand how your process could give rise to odour pollution and that you have the capability to manage that risk effectively.”