Avonmouth residents' anger at collapsed case
RESIDENTS in Avonmouth say they are angry that no one will be held to account for the clouds of wood dust which blighted their lives and homes.
The Environment Agency prosecuted Edward Jones, co-director of wood processing firm EGNI Ltd, over the dust clouds blamed by residents for an increase in coughs and colds.
But a judge at Bristol Magistrates' Court this week dismissed the charges of breaching an environmental permit, saying they were based on flawed evidence.
Residents whose lives have been affected by dust from the docks, where a number of wood processing companies operate, say they are disappointed that no one is now facing punishment from the courts.
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They say pollution in the area continues to blight their lives.
The court had heard that on September 2 last year, homes in Regent Street and King Street had been blanketed by "thick and furry" dust which was "snowing" from the sky.
It was not an isolated incident but no conclusive evidence could be produced to prove which company, EGNI-run AW Jenkinson or nearby Boomeco, was responsible for the dust emissions.
In February of this year, the Post reported on another incident of dust covering homes, gardens and cars in Poole Street.
Yesterday Sandra Ware, 62, of Poole Street, said she was very disappointed with the court decision. She said: "It turned out to be a waste of time and money."
Husband Steve, 63, said that the dust had "consumed their lives".
He said: "The garden gets coated in dust and when we open the windows it gets into the house, not to mention our cars, which are impossible to keep clean. We have also suffered from an increasing amount of coughs and colds, like a lot of people in Avonmouth."
Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie, who has long been campaigning on behalf of the residents, said: "I accept that evidence on who is to blame has been unclear but this is all deeply frustrating for residents, who have had to live with this unacceptable level of wood dust from operations. People understandably want answers."
In court district Judge David Parsons said: "I suspect it must be obvious to those who live close to the area where the exemptions are granted that it is unsuited to wood processing."
Yesterday the Environment Agency denied that the site was unsuitable.
Spokesman Paul Gainey said: "We have to bear in mind that this is an industrial site and part of the port.
"If we feel it is appropriate to, we try to prosecute."
At the trial this week, the court heard Mr Jones, of EGNI, who is now a manager for Stobart Biomass Products, is the director of four companies and has previously been the director of 11 more, which have gone into liquidation or have been dissolved.