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EA 'prematurely implementing' fire plan

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Tyre recyclers have criticised the Environment Agency (EA) for attempting to impose fire prevention changes that are still under consultation.

The EA proposed reduced combustible waste pile limits in a review of its fire prevention plan (FPP) guidance running until March, as well as changes to separation distances.

Peter taylor

But Tyre Recovery Association secretary general Peter Taylor (pictured) has told MRW that agency staff are already attempting to impose the changes as though they were already agreed.

He said: “What they are asking for is not possible in the short term. They suddenly decided one member needed to have a sprinkler system in their shed, which would have cost £3,000. In the tyre recovery business that is the sort of money that can put you out of business.

“It is just too much, too quickly. This will potential put some operators out of business and others it will reduce their operation so much to make it uneconomic.

“I have already written to the agency about this and we are planning to contact MPs in areas where our members have businesses.”

Tests are also being carried out until February to provide empirical evidence for determining safe storage practice. The EA had said guidance would be kept under review in the light of the conclusions of the tests.

Taylor questioned why the EA would not wait for the results from the tests before starting to change regulations.

He also expressed concern that there appeared to be no mention in the review document of scope for bespoke permits, which he said he was told there would be scope for, and warned “if tyre recovery is pushed to the margins, the likelihood is there will be lots more fires than there are now”.

An EA spokesperson said officers were currently ensuring all permitted sites storing combustible waste are operating in accordance with the guidance on Fire Prevention, originally published in 2013. Operators were required to follow the guidance to adequately control the risks of fire.

”At this point of the FPP consultation, we are not proposing widespread or significant changes to the guidance. We will review the feedback and decide whether or not changes are necessary. During the consultation period, we will continue to assess operators’ fire prevention plans against the existing guidance,” the EA added.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has removed exemptions for storage of waste tyres as it aims to stop “illegal dumping”.

Under the country’s current laws, no licence is required to process a small number of tyres but the Government has now changed this to avoid abuses of the system.

Taylor welcomed the changes to Scottish regulation, saying there was similar concern about exemptions in the rest of the UK, but said he was told by Sepa the changes would not apply to retailers.

However, he added that he would still support the removal of exemptions if it was extended further.

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