The company was convicted following a nine-day trial on charges of breaching its environmental permit conditions over 18 months and was fined a total of £10,000, and told to pay costs of £42,500.
Lincoln Magistrates Court heard that smells from Moy Park’s poultry unit in Kirkby on Bain, Woodhall Spa, had maked residents feel sick and depressed. Richard Banwell, prosecuting, told the court that between July 2008 and September 2011, 94 complaints of smells were made to the Environment Agency, and, between 2009 and 2011, a number of letters were exchanged between the agency and the company, raising concerns over the issue of odours and calling on it to make changes.
The court heard that agency officers visited both Heale Poultry Unit at Kirkby on Bain and the homes of complainants on many occasions to investigate reports of smells. Officers reported varying levels of odour and experienced dry throats to feelings of nausea. Local residents reported feeling "depressed" by the smells.
However, since February 2011, stocking levels had been reduced by one-third and changes had been made to the feed, litter and misting system. No breaches of the odour condition have been substantiated since the measures were put in place, Lincoln magistrates were told.
David Travers QC, representing Moy Park, said that in 2009 the company had trialled some measures, including a food additive, a litter treatment and installed a scented misting system.
In sentencing, District Judge Stobart said that Kirkby on Bain was an area famed for leisure facilities. He said Moy Park had made a genuine attempt to find a solution. Since the reduction in the number of birds, the position had improved marginally. But for economic reasons Moy Park did not take this step initially. He said they preferred to try to mask the smell while maximising profit.
After the hearing, Environment Agency officer Emma Benfield said: "The intensive farming sector need to recognise that its activities have potential to cause amenity impact to neighbours and act sooner to rectify problems. If Moy Park had resolved problems earlier, it would not have been necessary to take enforcement action.’