FAMILIES in Dunfermline have been kicking up a stink with "multiple reports" to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) about a bad smell.

And the watchdog reckons they've got to the bottom of it and said the foul odours could be wafting south from Fife Council's rubbish dump at Lochhead, north of Wellwood.

Steve Mecrani got in touch with the Press and said: "We've lived here in Pitreavie for four years and never experienced any problems with air pollution.

"But around four weeks ago, we started noticing a pungent, petrochemical smell in the air.

"It happened again, once every few days at random times, but it has become more frequent recently.

"Sometimes it's so bad we can smell it inside the house. One night, I had to close the window at the children's bedtime as I could smell it in their room."

He said the issue had been raised on Facebook with various theories, including suggestions that the smell could be from tankers on the Forth or aircraft from Edinburgh Airport jettisoning fuel in the atmosphere. Others thought Lochhead, Mossmorran or Grangemouth was to blame.

Dunfermline North councillor Ian Ferguson said he had been contacted by residents in the Milesmark/Parkneuk area about a chemical smell and had visited Lochhead.

He said: "I didn't smell anything myself but a friend of mine who lives in the Castings area told me it was horrendous and they were having headaches.

"Then another person got in touch and then another. They described it as a chemical smell."

He spoke to management at the landfill site and was told it may be to do with the anaerobic digestion plant, which helps convert the brown bin waste of grass cuttings and food scraps into gas and energy.

He said there was bio-material being stored outside, as they were "in between processes", and the smell could have drifted south.

A spokesperson for SEPA said: “SEPA has recently received multiple reports of odour around Lochhead landfill site in Dunfermline.

“Reports of pollution help us tackle problems, including in this case, the impact odour can have on communities.

“The source of the odour may be linked to ongoing works being carried out at the site and we’re actively working with the operator to ensure this is resolved as quickly as possible and that any impacts on the community are minimised during this time.

“If you are affected by odours from the site, we advise you to report this to us via sepa.org.uk/report.”

Robin Baird, the chief operating officer of Resource Efficient Solutions, which manages the landfill and recycling centres for Fife Council, said: "We are carrying out significant work onsite, including work to maximise the gas capture.

"This is continuing at pace and we will continue to work with SEPA to ensure this is done to the highest environmental standards, as well as being completed as soon as possible."

Mr Mecrani said: "Some have mentioned a smell of rotten eggs or a sulphur smell. SEPA asked me about that as there is drilling work etc going on at the recycling centre but I told them it wasn't that kind of smell, definitely a petrochemical smell, the same odour as around the Grangemouth refinery.

"But SEPA and the local Green Party think the refinery is too far away to cause it."

He admitted the smell was "worse a few weeks ago when we were in Townhill Park with the kids", which is nearer the Lochhead dump.

But he added: "My wife gets out and about and she's reported the same oily smell around nearby Pitcorthie but as far away as Saline and Oakley.

"It's still a bit confusing as most people seem to be blaming Lochhead but have reported different types of smells. So I'm not 100 per cent sure we've got to the bottom of it yet."