The new owner of a farm near Stithians has defended a set of new sludge tanks and said there is nothing wrong with plans to spread human waste on his fields.

Residents of the hamlet of Carn and the surrounding area, which lies between Stithians and the reservoir, have accused the new owners of Carnsiddia Farm, who also own septic tank service company Aquarod, of installing sludge treatment tanks without planning permission, and of planning to run a new human waste disposal and fertilizer business out of the site without the appropriate consent.

They have also raised concerns about traffic from trucks delivering human septic tank waste on narrow nearby roads, odours coming from the tanks, and about the effect of spreading the treated waste on fields in a sensitive area near to a lake and the source of the River Kennall.

However the new landowners have said they do not need planning permission for the tanks, and have a certificate of exemption from the Environment to store the septic tank waste on their farm before it is used to fertilize their fields which are low on nutrients, and they only want to run a small farm rather than any other business.

Daya Stafford, who lives near to the farm, told the Packet that in November neighbours noticed "the normal amount of activity for someone moving into a new home," but in December "a lot of traffic" including "large Aquarod sewage trucks" began appearing on the farm and around, including on the lane which "is certainly not suitable for this type of traffic."

She also raised concerns about a new access road on the property which appeared to have been built without planning permission, and "huge pits being dug and massive tanks installed," with "Aquarod tankers... discharging their raw sewage into them."

She added: "The biggest concern is that Andrew Proud, [who is] the owner of Aquarod, has carried out a huge amount of work, we believe, in preparation for his business to run a sewage treatment plant, the dumping and storage of human waste.

"There is no planning permission for any of this work and the planning application submitted is vague and lacks information."

While Mr Proud is in the process of applying for planning permission to convert two buildings into a farmhouse and annexe, with a new access and new fertiliser tanks, there are concerns that with works already underway he will present planning officers with a fait accompli.

Among 90 objections on Cornwall Council's planning website are Kevin and Nicole Peart, who ask where and how the human waste is being treated and cleaned prior use on the land, and question if the 35 acre farm requires the amount of sewage which the new tanks are capable of storing - pointing out that the site is in a nitrate vulnerable zone which restricts the amount of fertiliser that can be used.

However, Mr Proud told the Packet that a lot of the issues raised were "false," and the family was simply planning to set up a farm at the site, where they will keep his wife's horses and a small herd of cattle.

He said: "We've no intention to change the use to commercial, we're changing it back into an agricultural farm.

"The farm has not been in use for 20 to 25 years now... with regards to the quality of grass it's producing, it's very poor."

He said the family had been granted an exemption by the Environment Agency that allowed them to store septic tank sludge at the farm, and they were able to inject it into the ground "to increase the nutrients in the soil," adding that the process was being monitored, including the agency taking soil samples from the farm.

And he added that the tanks at the farm did not require planning permission, were not for commercial use, and fell within the limitations set by the Environment Agency exemption, while the use of septic tank sludge, which was lower in nitrates than other fertilizers, was actually preferable in a nitrate vulnerable zone.

He also said that he had originally been advised that the access road did not need planning permission, and it was only after it was built that he was told he would, meaning it was later added to the application.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said the planning application was currently being assessed, and added: "The council’s planning enforcement team is aware that some development at this site has been carried out without planning permission and will consider the expedience of taking formal action following the determination of a retrospective planning application."

An Environment Agency spokesperson confirmed Carnsiddia Farm had a permit to take sludge - which can include settled urine, faeces, paper, and other elements - from domestic septic tanks, and store it until it is spread, and agreed that the product was suitable for a nitrate vulnerable zone as it is low in nitrate compared to slurry.

They added: "[Sludge] can be spread without a permit as long as it complies with the Sludge use in Agriculture Regulations. Sludge must not be over applied beyond required crop nutrients or allowed to pollute watercourses.

"It is the responsibility of the operator to know what nitrate loadings are in the sludge."