THE people of Warrington have been asked to follow their noses and name the industrial and business sites which cause the worst smells.
Council leaders have asked the public to identify which parts of the town have bad odours.
Wafting smells are the largest cause of pollution in Warrington - featuring in 71% of pollution complaints in 2002 and 60% in 2003.
Warrington has an effluent treatment site, a tannery, food processing plants and two landfill sites which in the past have sparked complaints.
The public consultation by Warrington Borough Council is the first of its kind in Britain and will help the local authority form an Odour Management Strategy to beat unpleasant smells.
In 2002 there were 658 complaints made about odours to the council - 48% were about sewage works, 11% waste disposal facilities, 9% agricultural manure and 7% food processing plants.
This week council officers will be contacting 230 resident groups or individuals and distributing 2,000 leaflets in Warrington's libraries and public buildings.
A questionnaire asks residents to provide a description of any odour they smell in the town, where it comes from and how often they smell it. They are also asked to explain how it affects their lives.
Phillip Ramsden, the council's principal environmental health officer, said: "A lot of the sites in Warrington have done a huge amount of work in the last three or four years. There have been huge improvements but there is still some way to go.
"I would not want to compare the smell here with say Liverpool or Halton but residents here do feel very strongly about it."
Sites likely to figure in the consultation include the Biffa landfill site by junction 11 of the M62 and the Waste Recycling Group landfill site in Arpley.
David Heaton, general manager of the Biffa site, said: "In the last year we have invested just under a million pounds to meet emission standards which has significantly reduced the risk of odour."
Mike Snell, WRG spokesman, said the air quality near the company's landfill site was currently "very good".
The consultation is also likely to involve the United Utilities waste treatment plant in Sankey Bridges.
A UU spokesman: "As a responsible company providing an essential service to the people of Warrington, we recognise that our processes may be a potential source of odour and have had an effective odour management strategy in place for some time.
"We work closely with Warrington Borough Council and are happy to contribute to this consultation."
Shoppers yesterday said they notice smells from the Lever Faberge factory on Liverpool Road, which makes popular washing-up brands including Persil.
Scott Purenood, 26, from Warrington, said: "Near the Lever factory it smells of soap but it's not offensive.
"I'm not walking about holding my nose or anything - the really smelly place is down the road in Widnes."
Businessman Steve Sweeney, 45, said: "They've actually started to improve things now in Warrington because the area has been described as a blackspot.
"When they're making perfume and washing powder it smells like synthetic chemicals."
A spokeswoman for Lever Faberge said: "Lever Faberge is committed to managing the environmental impact of its operations and we welcome all opportunities to work in partnership promoting environmental care."
The public consultation will run until June 11.
Cllr Maureen Banner, executive member for community and wellbeing, said: "We want to hear the views of the local community and local industry on the consultation.
"Our aim is to make Warrington a more pleasant place to live and do business."