SOME 200 Fleetwood families who say their lives have been blighted by a sewage pong are now involved in a legal bid for compensation.
The residents claim they have not been able to enjoy life in their homes and gardens over a period of years because of the smell emanating from United Utilities’ sewage plant on Jameson Road, Fleetwood.
And although massive investment at wastewater works has greatly reduced the problem, the no-win, no-fee solicitors backing their claim believe they have a strong case.
More people have come forward after legal firm Hugh James held two open days at Fleetwood’s North Euston Hotel before Christmas.
The deadline for claimants to come forward for the group litigation was reached today.
Now the scene is set for a possible legal battle through the courts which could result in thousands of pounds being paid out, should the case be successful.
Neil Stockdale, of Merthyr Tydfil-based Hugh James, said: “The fact we now have 200 families involved is an indication of how much people have been affected by this issue.
“The open days did lead to more people coming forward, but we did expect this number of people to be involved and aren’t surprised, given the strength of feeling.
“We are now expecting the first court hearing to be listed this month.”
If the matter goes to trial, that hearing would be likely to be held early next year, but there may also be the possibility of an out-of court settlement.
However, there are no indications at this early phase as to how the case will develop.
United Utilities does not wish to comment on the issue at this stage.
But the company argues that it has made significant efforts to deal with the issue of the problem smell.
United Utilities invested £55m in an expansion of the works back in 2010.
The completion of that work resulted in a great reduction in the severity of the smell.
At its worst, the smell even affected some people’s sleep and also led to some children being unable to play in their gardens.
In 2007, a £40,000 odour investigation by “smells experts” Entec UK in 2007, commissioned by Wyre Council, confirmed that the odour in Fleetwood did come from the treatment works.
Mark Hamer was one of those who for several years campaigned for residents affected by the stench.
The former councillor said: “For years people suffered from this dreadful smell so I am glad their cases are being looked at.
“It is a testament to the determination of the residents of Fleetwood that it has got this far.”
In a similar case, the environmental team at Hugh James claimed victory for residents in Twickenham, Middlesex in their battle against Thames Water Utilities, over the pong from the Mogden Sewage Treatment Works owned by Thames.