A Norfolk chicken factory faces court following an investigation into "sickening" smells.

Complaints about “sickening” smells coming from Banham Poultry in Attleborough - which processes nearly one million chickens a week for UK supermarkets - have been raised for some years.

In December 2020, it was announced at a Breckland Council meeting that an investigation, led by the Environment Agency, had been launched at the factory in relation to those complaints.

At that meeting, Conservative councillor for Attleborough Vera Dale said: "Banham Poultry is trying in some areas. As a resident, I do think the odour has improved.

Eastern Daily Press: Councillor Vera Dale was elected as mayor of Attleborough on May 14, 2018. PHOTO: Attleborough Town Council.Councillor Vera Dale was elected as mayor of Attleborough on May 14, 2018. PHOTO: Attleborough Town Council. (Image: ATC)

"But having said that, if you happen to catch it, it is quite sickening.”

In January 2021, the factory announced a £500,000 overhaul of its odour abatement system, including replacing ventilation infrastructure and adding extra "odour scrubbing" capacity.

The news that charges are to be brought before a magistrates’ court in March was shared at a Wednesday meeting of Breckland Council’s overview and scrutiny commission.

At the start of the meeting, commission chair Rhodri Oliver read from an email he had received, confirming that the Environment Agency is bringing two charges to Chelmsford Magistrates Court, currently listed for March 3, 2022.

The first charge, Mr Oliver explained, relates to an alleged breach of conditions of the company’s environmental permit, “in failing to keep activities free from odour at levels likely to cause pollution outside of the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Environment Agency, by failing to use appropriate measures to prevent - or where that is not practicable, to minimise - the odour.”

Eastern Daily Press: Conservative district councillor Rhodri OliverConservative district councillor Rhodri Oliver (Image: Archant)

The alleged breach of conditions, which was said to have taken place between January 2019 and September 2021, would be contrary to the Environmental Permitting England and Wales Regulations 2016.

The second charge is that on May 8 2021, Banham Poultry is alleged to have failed to comply with the requirements of an April 6 enforcement notice, issued under the same regulations.

Mr Oliver said no further information would be available until after the hearing.

“Obviously the hearing is a public meeting in itself so as soon as we have further updates we’ll provide them but clearly it’s good to see that some steps are being taken on the matter, and that residents are going to see, hopefully, some results," he said.

Banham Poultry was approached for comment.