HAS Holywood’s stench returned to haunt the town?

That’s the fear being raised as a horrendous sewage smell has been scented in different parts of the town in recent weeks.

The pong tortured residents for much of the last decade, but locals haven’t had a sniff of it for several years.

Recently, however, it seems to have made an unwelcome comeback, and especially seems to be hanging around the Holywood shore.

That’s led to a debate over whether the source is seaweed or nearby Kinnegar sewage treatment works.

But either way, North Down MLA Stephen Dunne is demanding the authorities clear out the bad smell once and for all.

“We need to see direct action from the various agencies who are responsible,” said Mr Dunne.

“I am actively working with both Northern Ireland Water and Ards and North Down Borough Council to establish the exact nature and cause of the significant odour, and how the issue can be resolved once and for all.”

Several different theories have been put forward for the source of the stench over the years.

That included a possible design flaw in Kinnegar treatment plant, which at one point used a series of open air pools as overflow spots.

But when those pools dried in hot weather, went the theory, remaining sewage overflow was exposed to the air and the smell wafted downwind to Holywood.

NI Water spent a large amount of money reworking the Kinnegar plant – but when the stench persisted, another theory was that certain forms of seaweed or algae that smell like sewage when they decompose could be washing up along the coast.

Said Mr Dunne: “There has been a significant amount of investment in recent years involving improvement schemes at the Kinnegar Wastewater Treatment Works; however, this latest smell does need a fresh look and action given the very distinct problem noticed by people living, working or travelling near the plant.

“I will continue to press these agencies to ensure this smell is gone once and for all.”