Blackpits Recycling Centre
Monitoring Group

Material Change and Dial a Bin site at Blackpits

This page describes the Blackpits operations and also provides a link where you can complain about any unpleasant odours that you think are emanating from the Blackpits site.

Material Change and Dial a Bin site at Blackpits

This page describes the Blackpits operations and also provides a link where you can complain about any unpleasant odours that you think are emanating from the Blackpits site.

How Do I Complain?

Blackpits is not the only source of odours which affect Helmdon from time to time but if you think there is a problem coming from the site, the simplest (and preferred) way to complain is to complete the 'Report an Odour' form (cick here). Note that the form opens in a new tab - you will need to close that tab when you have completed the form.

You can also contact one of the monitoring group who will be able to make a complaint on your behalf.

If the problem is serious you can ring the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

What goes on at Blackpits?

Blackpits is a large site located to the south west of Helmdon and is accessed from the Welsh Lane (B4525) just to the West of the Helmdon cross roads. It has developed significantly in recent years and a number of waste, recycling and renewable energy activities are now conducted there.

There are two main operators involved at the site. Material Change, a company based in Ipswich runs the windrow (open air) composting of green bin waste, as well as the new anaerobic digester which makes gas for the national gas grid from silage, although there plans to add certain waste materials such as coffee and chocolate from factories in Banbury. Material Change also provides a transfer station for black bin and food waste collected in South Northants and some of Cherwell. The black bin waste is sent for incineration and the food waste is sent to an off site anaerobic digester.

Dial a Bin deals in waste and recycling for businesses, including skip hire, as well as providing a transfer station for the blue bin recycling materials from South Northants and Cherwell. Those materials are bulked up and sent to Shotton in North Wales where they are separated and sold on for reuse either in the UK or abroad.

What Benefits Are There From The Blackpits Operations?

If garden waste is buried in landfill it decomposes to make methane, which is a powerful global warming gas. If it is composted in the open air however, it shouldn't create methane and instead produces a valuable natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Composting is also cheaper than either landfilling or incineration. Overall the positives of the composting operation are that it allows us to get rid of our garden waste, have it turned into a valuable product that is good for the environment, and it saves money on our Council Tax.

The anaerobic digester produces gas from renewable crops. This has a very much lower impact of global warming than using gas from the North Sea or imported from Russia or North Africa. It also returns valuable soil nutrients to local fields to help them stay healthy. Producing gas for the grid is also better for the environment than burning it to make electricity. The plant also produces carbon dioxide for the food industry from the same process.

Although we talk about "doing the recycling" meaning putting stuff in our blue bins, the reality is that the recycling only happens once the materials are sorted out and prepared for reprocessing back into usable materials. It obviously doesn't make sense to send each refuse vehicle to the sorting station – which is often a long way away- so somewhere is needed to act as a transfer station where materials can be bulked up onto larger vehicles. The same is true for the black bin and food waste. Blackpits provides an essential link in that process.

What Are The Possible Problems For Our Village?

The main problem arising from the Blackpits operations is that odours escape from the site and make life unpleasant, particularly in the summer months when we want to be outdoors more enjoying our gardens. This does happen from time to time although the impact can vary from place to place depending on the wind speed and direction and other factors. When this happens, the site operators need to be told about it as soon as possible.

Other possible problems include

increased litter, either escaping from the site or lost from vehicles entering or leaving
the number of vehicle movements including tractors taking silage or removing compost, especially if they are routed through the village
traffic hazards around the crossroads and the site entrance
visual intrusion of developments on the site

Blackpits Liaison Group

These various risks led the Parish Council to establish a Group to liaise with the site operators and the Environment Agency, which regulates them.

The Group is responsible for improving the reporting of problems at the site and meeting with the operators from time to time to try to identify the causes and possible improvements to reduce or remove them.

In order for the group to do this effectively, we do need everyone to report odour problems when they happen. The staff at Blackpits are responsive to complaints and may halt operations if necessary until conditions improve and by looking at the number of complaints and the conditions at the time, the Monitoring Group can talk to the operators about changes to improve the situation.

Can Anything Be Done About These Problems Anyway?

There are practical steps that can be taken when problems are identified. As a result of earlier work by the previous Monitoring Group, fencing and litter picking patrols have been used to cut down on litter escaping the site.

On the composting side, Material Change has achieved PAS100 accreditation for their compost. This industry standard controls the way in which the compost is made and cleaned up before use and should eliminate many of the problems which could arise. They have also, at the request of the Monitoring Group, planted a stand of trees between the composting operation and the village to absorb and disperse odours.

But if problems still occur, it is important that we identify whether they are coming from Blackpits or from other sources like farmers spreading the compost or other organic matter like animal or sewage sludges on surrounding land. If the odour is from Blackpits we can pin down what activities are causing the problem to see if they can be controlled.