There are growing concerns that green belt land in Aldenham is becoming "blighted" by a large compost site.

Residents from Pegmire Lane have contacted Hertfordshire County Council about land they let as part of Blackbirds Farm.

They said that after years of growing crops, the field has now become an "industrial scale" compost site, which is ruining views and is noisy.

Chris Lack has lived in Pegmire Lane for eight years. The 53-year-old who works from home said: "It beggars belief that the council would allow a waste processing activity on this scale to be conducted so close to a conservation area, let alone a nursery school and completely destroy one of the key aspects of its conservation status, its views.

"A composting operation was introduced on an industrial scale in the field opposite our village."

The council told Mr Lack that they had visited the site and were assured that the organic compost was an agricultural activity and not a "separate business."

Watford Observer:

The site

Mr Lack continued: "At first the village assumed the composting was for use as fertiliser on the land itself. Instead we now have a very smelly, fly ridden, litter ridden, industrial scale compost production site located next a conservation area, which itself of a mockery to the ideals of conservation.

"We find it hard to accept the blight on the landscape which has suddenly grown from nowhere."

Mr Lack added: "The constant beeping of machinery has also introduced noise pollution to what is usually a quiet corner of Hertsmere.  The waste has also previously burst into flames, which is a worry.

"Living within a conservation area comes with a responsibility to protect and enhance the very features which you are trying to conserve for future generations.

"A working remedy is all we seek. The farmer has a right to farm, this we do not dispute.

"You'd think living close to the M1 would be more problematic with noise, but the constant beeping of your tenants diggers and waste processing machinery is surely tantamount to inflicting daily water boarding torture on local residents.

"What used to be idyllic view out of the village towards Aldenham church, mentioned in the Doomsday book, is now blighted by the activity."

Laurie Hall is the area’s neighbourhood watch leader.

The solicitor said it was a "disgrace" that the activity is allowed to operate on green belt and in a conservation area.

He said: "If anyone other than the local authority had tried to do this it would have been stopped.

"The fact of the matter is that this is not in any way an agricultural activity.  I have lived on Pegmire Lane since 1980. Until the last year or so the land has always been used for growing crops of various sorts. There was no other activity. This industrial scale waste processing started on a small scale and has got larger and larger.

"On the personal front I just believe this is all very sad."

Andrew Dawson, a spokesperson from Hertfordshire County Council, said: "Hertfordshire County Council owns the land and leases it to a farmer who composts green waste for use as an agricultural fertiliser on his farm only.

"This is a relatively small-scale operation which has planning permission and the necessary permits from the Environment Agency.

"The site is regularly inspected by both Hertfordshire County Council and the Environment Agency to ensure it complies with these consents."