PEOPLE who feel they have been affected by a mysterious pong hanging over Portsmouth are being urged to seek compensation.
Hugh James solicitors has sent letters to residents because it wants to take up civil claims against The Tamdown Group, which is decontaminating soil at the former PD Fuels site, in Tipner.
People say the work, which is being carried out on behalf of site owner Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), has created an unbearable stench similar to tar and strong diesel, and the solicitors say people could be entitled to money if their lives at home have got worse since work began at Tipner in June.
It says: ‘It is our experience that pursuing a nuisance claim as a group with your neighbours may secure compensation for the nuisance and lead to an improvement in your local environment.’
Councillor Jason Fazackarley, who represents Nelson, which covers Tipner, said residents had complained to him.
‘I have been in the area when the smell has been clearly evident,’ he said.
‘The issue has also been raised a few times at Tipner regeneration meetings. Some are more susceptible to the smell and have developed headaches and felt nauseous.
‘It’s up to residents whether they want to make a claim, but unfortunately as ward councillors there’s not a lot we can do because the experts have told us the smell doesn’t breach safety regulations.’
Kirsty Howard, 42, of Twyford Avenue, said: ‘We first noticed it in the summer. It smelled like tar or creosote and makes your eyes water, it makes you feel sick.
‘For a while it was smelling like that all day – you couldn’t put your washing out because it got on your clothes.
‘We couldn’t even open the windows. It was awful.
‘You dread it and think, “oh no we haven’t got that all day, have we?” It’s very annoying.’
Mrs Howard, who suffers from asthma, said she has been on steroids and changed her inhaler twice since the smell started because it has made her ill.
She added: ‘We have had a solicitor’s letter and we are considering going for compensation. We deserve it.’
But John Cass, chairman of the Stamshaw and Tipner Neighbourhood Forum, said: ‘It wasn’t nice but I’m not sure if compensation is worth pursuing. From the monthly meetings we’ve had it would appear the worst is over. And the alternative would have been biochemical chimneys which would have been operating 24 hours a day.’
The council says the odour isn’t harmful and should be less potent now.
Seamus Meyer, the council’s strategic project manager, said: ‘Throughout the project our officers have been fully satisfied with the way work has been carried out and the precautions taken.’