Lincolnshire chicken firm endorsed by Jamie Oliver 'failed to control smells'
A chicken firm endorsed by TV chef Jamie Oliver failed to control smells caused by poultry manure at a Lincolnshire farm, a court heard.
Moy Park, which runs Heale Poultry Unit near Woodhall Spa, is on trial for not preventing odours from affecting people living in the area.
Prosecutors for the Environment Agency allege the business did not do enough to address problems despite repeated complaints from nearby residents. Moy Park denies two charges, which relate to activities at its Kirkby on Bain site between July 21, 2009, and January 18, 2011.
Witness Emma Benfield, an environmental officer at the Environment Agency, said: "The concerns were regarding the complaints we made to the company that actions weren't being taken to address the odour complaints."
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Ms Benfield added manure, produced by tens of thousands of broiler chickens, was a key source of the odour.
The Environment Agency claims Moy Park did not adhere to conditions of a permit issued in 2008.
The body says the firm failed to use appropriate measures to prevent the odour, or minimise it "where practicable".
However, witness Gareth Morris, a project manager at Moy Park during the period, said the agency offered no advice on how to deal with the problem.
When asked by David Travers QC, defending, if "at any stage" the agency had offered assistance in ways to reduce odour, Mr Morris said "no".
Mr Morris then explained all measures that had been trialed in attempts to address the issue were taken from the wider livestock industry or their own research.
He was also asked if the company had asked the Environment Agency for help.
"Repeatedly," he replied.
Mr Morris explained the company had begun trials across a number of sites, including Heale Poultry Unit.
He added the business adopted a "scientific" approach and its bosses had been committed to resolving the problem.
Mr Travers asked: "So at every level Moy Park took this seriously and did their best to resolve it?"
"Very seriously," said Mr Morris. "The emphasis was on solving the problem and getting the group into compliance."
Mr Morris also said key details of complaints were not communicated to them, such as the date, and these may have enabled the firm to identify the points where smells were worst.
Ms Benfield explained that by summer 2011 measures had been put into place to address the issue, including reducing the number of chickens.
Moy Park is pleading not guilty to two charges of failing to comply with conditions of an environmental permit by failing to ensure emissions from activities were free from odours at levels likely to cause annoyance outside the site and that the firm failed to use appropriate measures to prevent or minimise the odour.
The trial, which began at Lincoln Magistrates' Court on Thursday, February 14, continues.