A PENRITH campaigner has said the company behind the town's Omega Proteins industrial site "cannot be trusted" with any further expansion.

Fresh AIR for Penrith campaigner Jeff Thomson called on Eden Council last Thursday to commit to a rejection of further planning applications for the site, as he presented a petition demanding said commitment signed by more than 1,000 people.

The petition was debated at last week's Eden Council meeting, in which a number of councillors expressed sympathies with residents who have complained about odours emanating from the animal rendering site.

However William Patterson, independent Warcop councillor and chairman of the council's planning committee, stressed that it would be "quite wrong" for the council to pre-emptively commit to a rejection of planning applications without first applying the correct process of scrutiny to each individual submission.

"All large applications, which includes industrial and large estates, always come to committee," he said.

"The whole of the planning department is an open affair, and nothing gets done underhand or behind closed doors."

Conservative councillor for Penrith west and also a member of the planning committee, John Thompson, added that the council has to "follow the law" when deciding on planning applications, and the council could not commit to the position requested by the petition as such.

Campaigner Jeff Thomson expressed his frustration at what he believes is a position taken by the council that is insufficiently supportive of Penrith residents affected by odours emanating from the industrial site.

"Councillors have been ignoring the views and interests of local people by allowing delegated, often retrospective planning approvals for Omega," he said.

Mr Thomson referred to recent spikes in complaints made to the Environment Agency by Penrith residents over the odours emanating from the Omega site.

"Omega is a bad and irresponsible community neighbour," he said.

"Omega cannot control its current plant's odours and emissions. How therefore can it be trusted with any more expansion?"

A spokesman for the Leo Group, which runs the Omega site, issued an apology to residents via social media last Saturday for the odours issuing from the plant that day.

"We experienced a PLC failure on our thermal oxidiser, one of our key odour abatement systems, at our site in Penrith," the statement read.

“Work began immediately to rectify the issue and the oxidiser and plant were fully operational again ‪at 8.‪15am‬‬.

“We apologise for this incident, the Environment Agency have been notified and they have attended site.

“We can confirm this is unrelated to the issues experienced last weekend.”

Mr Thomson branded this apology as insufficient to address the experiences of affected residents.

"We have made it clear to the company that we expect improvements in their environmental performance, in order to avoid a repeat of the awful odour residents experienced," he said.

"We don't want apologies, we want a resolution. This council therefore must call a halt to Omega's uncontrolled growth."

Conservative councillor Helen Fearon said that as a long-time residents of Penrith, she agreed that the odour emanating from the site is "very often absolutely unacceptable".

"I thoroughly understand that Eden District Council, certainly from a planning perspective, is very restricted on what it can do and has to operate within the law," she said.

But she added: "I would support anything we can do legitimately to make the lives of residents, particularly in the Castletown area, better, and to help them to not have to put up with this horrendous smell, which really does blight the town, and blight many people's lives."