A NORTHWICH man has described having sleepless nights because of the constant noise being generated by a nearby Tata plant.

Jonathan Smith, who lives on Shurlach Road in Rudheath, said he was kept awake for three nights last week (up to and including September 16) by the sound of steam being emitted during the Lostock works bi-annual shutdown.

He said: "I used to work on the site in the 1990's, so I'm aware of the maintenance work they do during shutdown.

"They usually shutdown every six months, which leads to steam being emitted from the plant but this was constant and ongoing for three nights.

"We tend to get a lot of noise around here, as the Roberts bakery is also nearby, but as soon as I heard to volume of this, I knew exactly where it was coming from.

"With the weather being warm, I'd obviously had my windows open too, but the noise was bouncing around the buildings and was very loud and constant.

"By 3.30am I'd had enough and had to shut all the windows."

Mr Smith, who lives with his elderly father, said it then became impossible to get to sleep because of the disturbance and the fact it became too warm in the house once the windows were closed.

He went on: "Even my Dad, who's half deaf to be honest, said he noticed how loud it was, and he's never heard it before now.

"I went to speak to the lads on security at the site the next day, just to tell them how bad it had been the night before.

"They told me the problem they have is that they can't do the maintenance work unless they shut down the plant.

"I understand that part of it, but the technical question I have is why can't the power station that pushes out this steam, be reigned in a bit?

"It's been going on for quite a few years now and it's been bugging me and bugging me, but that night was the last straw."

Mr Smith went on to say that although he is used to the noise generated by traffic on the nearby bypass, it is the constant nature of the sound from the plant that makes it hard to live with.

He went on: "It obviously depends on which way the wind might be blowing.

"I posted it on Facebook and although some people said 'it's only noise, get on with it' others were more supportive, because some of us can be more sensitive to noise than others.

"It's a good job I wasn't in work the next day, because I had to catch up on my lost sleep.

"I don't know how people closer to the plant have fared.

"We recently had double glazing fitted which obviously helps with the sound, but as soon as I closed the windows that night, the room became so much hotter."

Phil Davies, General Counsel and Director at Tata Chemicals Europe said:

"In order to carry out critical routine maintenance and statutory inspections work, every year Tata Chemicals Europe carries out a planned shutdown at our Lostock manufacturing site.

"This year's planned stoppage was last week and was the cause of temporarily increased noise levels at the site.

"During these periods it is essential that the cross-country steam pipes which supply steam from our power station at Winnington are kept warm, therefore the steam which would normally be used in the manufacturing process at Lostock has to be safely released from the Lostock site via a vent which can create additional noise for a limited period of time.

"This is all in accordance to the strict environmental consents we operate under.

"Dependent on the activity carried out, the period of time the plant is shutdown can vary year-to-year, this year the company completed some additional actions resulting in a slightly longer shutdown than last year.

"The Lostock plant has been an active industrial site for over a century and the company has been completing maintenance activity this way for a number of decades.

"Tata Chemicals Europe always seeks to minimise the impact on the local area whilst ensuring the plants get the maintenance and statutory inspections necessary to continue safe operations."