A campaigner claims councillors have let them down, after stepping away from the community liaison group with those responsible for the so-called Penrith Pong.

At Eden Council’s full council meeting, held on Thursday evening, members voted to withdraw from the Omega Proteins community liaison group.

The animal rendering facility, run by environmental company Leo Group, processes by-products from abattoirs, meat-processing plants, and catering companies to create oils and meals which are then by various other industries – and creates a pungent smell.

Many suggest the stench has forced residents to move out away from Penrith, become wary of buying property in the area, and keep their windows closed regardless of the weather.

Residents have been fighting against the bad smell that hangs over the town for more than a decade, and Jeff Thomson, of Fresh Air for Penrith, says the withdrawal from the liaison group is “letting the people of Penrith down”.

“Eden councillors have turned their backs on the people of Penrith and the problem of the Penrith ‘pong’,” the campaigner said.

“By deciding to leave the liaison group, where they previously had three members, they are allowing Omega Proteins free reign to do whatever it wants.

“Big question is, why do we have or need councillors? They don’t want responsibility for the huge industrial plant on the edge of the town which causes residents’ misery, with its odour nuisance, on an almost daily basis.”

He continued: “What is needed is more scrutiny, more questioning, more openness and more feedback, not less. But they seem to have decided it’s too complex for them.”

Mr Thomson added that “the requirement for Omega to have a community liaison group was part of a 2014 High Court judgment against the company,” and said: “It now seems Omega may not be fulfilling the requirements of the court judgement.”

He went on to say that the site “grows bigger daily”, and has launched a petition calling for the council to block any future Omega Proteins planning proposals.

Eden Council leader, Virginia Taylor, responded Mr Thomson’s concerns, and said: “Eden Council is the planning authority for the Omega Proteins facility in Penrith.

“However the council, as planning authority, has no statutory powers regarding the regulation or operation of Omega Proteins’ facilities. This is under the remit of the Environment Agency.

“Eden Council [reviewed] its representatives on external bodies, including the Omega Proteins liaison group, at its formal Council meeting on Thursday evening.

“I hope I can attend the residents’ liaison group as a ward councillor on behalf of residents, not to represent Eden Council.”

Ms Taylor continued: “The council, in its role as planning authority, will continue to consider any future Omega Proteins planning applications in line with planning policy and the local development plan, just as it would consider applications from any business.”

A spokesman for Leo Group, which owns and operates Omega Proteins, said: “Mr Thomson needs to check his facts. There was never a High Court judgement passed down and the community liaison group meetings had started well before 2014.

“Mr Thomson talks about needing ‘more openness and more feedback’, but what he fails to mention is that on more than one occasion we have invited him to these meetings, and he has never taken up our offers.

“In relation to his online petition, planning applications follow due process. In this case it is Eden Council who decide the outcome.”