How Westhoughton can love farms AND have a smell-free town

Sewerage sludge
Sewerage sludge

The pungent smell which has wafted over Westhoughton since last Thursday has caused much uproar in the town.

More than 850 people have signed a petition calling for tighter controls on the spreading of sewerage sludge on farmland when it is near to residential areas.

Others have said residents should get over it and accept that farms should be able to produce these smells.

But here’s an explanation as to why Westhoughton can celebrate its farmers AND still have a relatively smell-free town.

Treating the sludge

Treatment removes much of the smell from sewage sludge. According to Government guidelines, untreated sludge must be incorporated or injected into the soil as quickly as possible, especially if the site is close to a populated area.

The sludge must be sprayed as close as possible to the ground to avoid fine spray being carried away on the air. If this isn’t possible, the farmer must inform local environmental health officers and take the protective measures they advise.

The sludge must not cause public nuisance from smells.

What is sewage sludge anyway?

Sewage sludge is the solid matter that’s left when sewage is treated by the water industry. It’s mainly human waste but also includes drainage from industries, animal and vegetable processing, and storm water run-off.

Some contents of sewage sludge are good for soil and plants. Others are potentially toxic elements (PTE) which are safe only if they’re below set limits.

When can sludge not be used?

You must not use sewage sludge on farmland when it can cause a nuisance to nearby homes, industry or traffic. It must not be spread as untreated, dewatered sludge on grassland.

More information


  1. Well it has clearly caused a nuicance so has been used incorrectly and outside of the guidlines. Can’t enjoy your weekend in your garden, can’t sleep with windows open even dryed washing stinks of it. The farmers shoul be tracked down and dealt with so it doesn’t happen again.

  2. Farmyard smells are one thing, this is most definitely not a farmyard odour. It cannot be right that the irresponsible actions of one person can detrimentally effect the lives of so many others. We cannot sit out in our garden, open our windows or enjoy bring outside in our home town.

  3. It’s awful I’ve never smelt anything like it . As said previous the one week we get a bit off sunshine and we can’t even open our windows and doors , oh and the dryer is on when we have lovely weather outside !

  4. People of Westhoughton: Make up your minds whether you want to retain this Green Belt area, or let the farmland slip away, and be replaced with houses and more congestion on the roads. The whiff of muck-spreading lasts a few days, at MOST, and is the promise of next year’s milk and cheese, and local veg. Celebrate it, instead of complaining, as if you think milk comes from bottles in the shop.

    1. There are other options I’m sure to fertilize the green belt and farms you are talking about. The option chosen is a poor one, probably the cheapest. Just asking for this smell to not happen doesn’t mean the green belt will go or that we want it to go, I think we are well within our rights here. Your comments are a complete over exageration.

  5. Farmers have been putting slurry on their fields in Howfen for decades. If you appreciate your green fields and open spaces then please understand its all part of agricultural land management. If you can’t accept it then there is always Didsbury or Sale.

    1. No farmers have ever been dumping untreated Human shit on fields in westhoughton or daisy hill fact ! You obviously think you know something but you don’t You don’t know any farmer’s or workings of any round here do you ? No

    2. Sale? That, Chris, is where the slurry comes from! I have a friend who lives on the bank of the Mersey, directly across from that massive shit-works, and he gets that smell most of the time.

  6. All this because a farmer has not followed government guidelines, I hope the farmer responsible is found and dealt with all they had to do was follow the correct methods

  7. Westhoughton is a semi rural area and to some extent farm activities and country smells are acceptable but this smell is not a farm smell.
    The Environment Agency has for at least a few years been experimenting using treated human waste on farm land to enhance arable plant growth with some success and long may it succeed. ” BUT” NEXT TIME TRY IT SOME WHERE ELSE

  8. I’ve lived in westhoughton for 15 years, and it’s never been as bad as this. Ordinary farmyard smells don’t bother me at all, but this is an unacceptably horrible stench.

  9. The people of Westhoughton need to decide whether they would rather have thousands of houses built or put up with a countryside smell for a relatively short period time. Farmers are already under threat and need support at this time and do not need to be attacked. We don’t want to lose anymore greenbelt land. Having previously lived in a city that is full of petrol fumes, I am now happy to live in Westhoughton and the smell simply reminds me that we are lucky enough to still have some countryside still around us.

  10. There is a massive point here that the farmers need encouragement and we don’t want more houses that is a fact, Our roads cant cope with any further traffic and we love the greenery. But when the smells are not of a farmyard variety and the spread from Chequerbent to the Macron to Hindley and last for two weeks this then this will have a divisive affect on the community.

    The knock on effect to this is causing less support for the farmers and our focus should be on things like HEART

    Ive been around farmland for 45 years and never had anything this intense for that long. lets sort it out and not fall out I do think we all want the same thing.

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