A group of some of the county’s most influential businesses met for a tour of a factory to learn more about its operations.

The ‘Power 40’ group, comprising 40 business leaders in Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, met this week for a tour of animal by-product processor Omega Proteins in Penrith.

The factory, acquired by Leo Group in 2002, processes ‘category three’ animal by-products – products passed fit for human consumption in a slaughterhouse but have no market for consumption in the UK.

They’re rendered into various products like oils and pet food, as well as plane fuel and pharmaceuticals.

The group was led by Danny Sawrij, Leo Group owner, joined by his son Leo Sawrij.

A presentation told of how Leo Group ‘grew from a small family business in the 1970s into a multinational corporation’.

They then underwent a tour to see the rendering process more in-depth, including various tech installed to mitigate pollution.

These included a water treatment plant and reed beds for waste- and rain-water recycling, as well as the multi-fuel thermal oxidiser which runs on biomass fuel, which Leo Group said is in line with its sustainability ethos.

It also offers the potential to generate electricity from surplus steam using a simple steam turbine.

The electricity can then be reused in the plant's production processes, reducing the onsite electricity requirements.

The factory has been the subject of an environmental campaign in the town by Fresh Air for Penrith, which since has seen hundreds of odour complaints received by the Environment Agency regarding the so-called ‘Penrith Pong’.

READ MORE: Council to investigate Omega Proteins in Penrith after 'pong' concerns

Campaigners have argued that the factory is not doing enough to mitigate odour, and the Environment Agency has been investigating the factory for it, but Leo Group argued the odour is from various sources and it isn’t the sole one, and that several odour abatement techniques are being used continuously on site.

The thermal oxidiser is one of three odour abatement techniques used.

It treats the vapour extracted from the process equipment at over 850 degrees and recovers the heat to create steam used back in the process.

A chemical scrubber and biofilters containing microorganisms are also employed; they are used to clean the less odorous room air.

The tour finished with a look around the new meal-loading buildings which, once completed, will allow the finished product to be loaded onto trailers in an enclosed space.

This aims to reduce odour from the site further and improve conditions for workers.

Cumbria Chamber marketing manager, Joe Sanders said: “It was inspiring to hear about their work setting best practices for the industry, supporting local causes, and their dedication to sustainability.

“It’s no surprise they were able to bag the Planet Saver Award in the regional heats of the Chamber Business Awards last year.”

Cumbria Chamber MD, Suzanne Caldwell, said: “This is one of the many Chamber initiatives which Leo Group have been involved in since they joined last year as a patron, cementing themselves as a key player in the business community.

“We look forward to developing the relationship further.”