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Environment Agency warns of fee increases for sites with 'poorly managed' fire risks

The Environment Agency has published a fire prevention guide in the wake of recent blazes at waste facilities, and warns of increases in its fees for poorly compliant sites.

The guidance document contains information on the most common causes of fires and a checklist of actions that can be taken to reduce risks.

According to consultancy 360 Environmental, the guidance document was sent to all waste and recycling sites holding an environmental permit alongside a note urging operators to review fire prevention procedures.

The letter said the agency will be checking fire risk procedures and that they could have an impact on ‘subsistence’ fees, the annual charges it imposes to recover the costs of the ongoing regulation of a permit.

“A well run site with appropriate fire prevention measures could reduce your annual subsistence fee by 5%. A poorly managed site with huge stockpiles of material and no fire breaks, could increase your annual subsistence fee by up to 300%,” the EA stated.

The agency also said that it was making compliance information available to local authorities awarding contracts for waste management, insurers and other businesses “to help them make informed decisions”.

The EA noted that there have been a number of high-profile fires at waste sites recently, following more than 230 incidents in 2012.

Recent major fire accidents reported by MRW included a blaze at Junction 25 Recycling’s facility in Stockport that involved more than 1,500 tonnes of materials and continued for over a week, a fire at Sweeep Kuusakoski’s recycling facility in Kent involving 300 tonnes of electronic waste, and a fire at a Jayplas depot in Smethwick, which was described by firefighters as the “largest fire in the region”.

The EA has not yet responded to MRW’s request to confirm when and to whom it had circulated the guidance and note.

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