Operators of a farm in Aldenham have been given the go ahead to expand their controversial composting operation – despite residents’ concerns about the noise, the smell and the HGV deliveries.

Staff at Blackbirds Farm, near Radlett, have been making compost from the ‘green’ waste collected by local authorities, including grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and Christmas trees, for around 10 years.

As part of that composting process they shred the raw waste and then leave it in ‘maturation pads’ to decompose, with the resulting compost then used to fertilize their fields.

On May 23, Hertfordshire County Council’s development control committee gave them the go-ahead to almost treble the operation.

They were granted permission to increase the amount of green waste they could process, from 8,000 tones a year to 23,500 tonnes a year.

And they were told they could increase the number of HGV deliveries to and from the centre from 10 to 16 on weekdays (eight in and eight out) – with eight allowed on Saturdays.

They were granted permission to continue using an existing ‘maturation pad’ and to develop a further two. But they were not given permission to continue using a maturation pad on a site on the farm known as Broadfields.

The committee also agreed to take enforcement action against the operation on another maturation pad, known as School Field – unless it was removed by the end of September this year.

Meanwhile the committee also insisted that the total number of vehicles – used in relation to the management of green waste and compost – going in and out on the Kemprow access road should also be limited.

They agreed this should not exceed 30 vehicles (15 in and 15 out) on weekdays – and no more than 16 on Saturdays, including the 16 HGV movements.

As part of the public consultation there were 68 objections and 41 responses in favour.

Objections related to issues including the impact of smell and dust, concerns about potential health risks, the noise, disturbance and vibrations from lorries, mud on roads and an increase in flies insects and vermin.

Speaking at the meeting, on behalf of residents, county councillor Caroline Clapper said: "Whilst I of course support farming businesses and the principle of composting, it cannot be ignored that the daily impact of these operations causes a negative effect on our resident’s quality of life.

"To not be able to open your windows on a warm day for fear of bio aerosols, flies and nausea from odours is not something our residents should have to endure."

But supporters pointed to the importance of sustainability and the benefits of composting, as well as the need for farmers to diversify.