Fumes issue causes a stink at Warnham brick factory

JPCT-31-08-11 SC11350694a Polluting chimney, Wienerberger, Warnham. View from Mercer Road, chimney behind another business site   -photo by steve cobb
JPCT-31-08-11 SC11350694a Polluting chimney, Wienerberger, Warnham. View from Mercer Road, chimney behind another business site -photo by steve cobb

AN ENVIRONMENTAL health officer visited a brick factory near North Horsham on Tuesday after residents complained about ‘a low level haze over the weekend’.

Adam Dracott, principle environmental health officer at Horsham District Council, said he soon discovered the cause of the haze to be a four inch hole in a chimney extractor fan at Wienerberger’s Warnham brick factory off Langhurstwood Road.

Mr Dracott confirmed to the County Times: “The fan has now been repaired

and that’s stopped the haze.”

However, the officer warned there were other ongoing issues that needed to be resolved, including the replacement of a filter which involves major work to the chimney at a cost estimated by the company to be £300,000.

Wienerberger plans to carry out the work this Christmas, however, district councillor Christian Mitchell (Con, Holbrook West) said he would like to see the work carried out ‘without delay’.

He told the County Times: “I’m very concerned about the current situation with regard to this filter which is not fully operational in the way that it needs to be.

“The brickworks’ decision to wait until the factory closes at Christmas to change

the filter is the wrong one. By then the filter will have not been working properly for some six months.

“In the proportionality test when the balancing test is done, the brickworks’ approach favours the economic case over the risk, however small, to public health. Well in my books when it comes to people’s health we don’t play fast and loose.

“Over a century of Parliamentary legislation has ensured that we have clean and safe air to breath and the public’s health must always be put before profit.

“I trust the brickworks will now do the right thing and change the filter without delay. Then, and only then, should they look at cost and I’d suggest they look to their insurers for any losses sustained during the period the factory closes.”

Speaking on behalf of local residents, Cressida Elias, of Langhurstwood Road, contacted the County Times to complain of ‘a lot of black smoke around the area and a terrible smell of plastic’.

She said: “The residents of Langhurstwood Road, Horsham have noticed over the past few months a hazy fog settling over their properties.

“The smoke, coming from the chimney at the brickworks will drift according to the wind and has been seen by residents as settling around their houses or crossing the A264 into North Horsham and Holbrook areas.”

A spokesperson for Wienerberger said: “Obviously we take these issues very seriously.

“The situation from our site is that we’re fully in discussion with the local authorities.

“We have agreed for repairs to take place over the Christmas period.”

If you’ve experienced any problems with air quality in the area contact the County Times on 01403 751267 or email ollie.mcateer@sussexnewspapers.co.uk