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Environment secretary pulled into Waste4Fuel saga

Environment secretary Liz Truss has met three local MPs to discuss their concerns about the giant illegal pile of waste at the Waste4Fuel site in Orpington, Kent.

The Conservative trio, James Brokenshire (Old Bexley & Sidcup), Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst) and Jo Johnson (Orpington) called for tougher financial restrictions on waste companies in the light of the problems identified by the Waste4Fuel situation.

The MPs, whose constituencies border or contain the troubled site, also wrote to the Prime Minister to underline the impact the Waste4Fuel site has had on local residents.

Truss promised to check with Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency (EA) that all possible options had been considered in resolving the situation. She also said she would examine changes to the law.

The trio told Truss that the local situation had been made worse by the EA “failing to act quickly enough and robustly enough” when it was clear that Waste4Fuel was failing to comply with its obligations.

The EA is currently shifting around 2,500 tonnes of waste of an estimated 12,000 tonnes, but the MPs want more to be done to clear the blighted site.

More generally, the MPs proposed tougher financial obligations on firms wishing to apply for a licence to operate a waste transfer site.

Under their proposal, firms would have to stump up cash in advance for a security bond. This could then be used to pay for the clearance of the site and other obligations should they fail to comply with their permit.

In a joint statement, the three MPs said: “We welcome the positive response from the secretary of state to the continuing concerns of local residents. It is simply unacceptable for the local community to be left with what amounts to a legalised fly tip on their doorsteps when an operator like Waste4Fuel does a midnight flit.

“We welcome the commitment to press the EA to consider all options to address the current problem and consider changes to waste regulations.”

The EA has also come under fire from local residents over its handling of the Waste4Fuel situation, while a high court judge threw out the agency’s injunction against the company over a lack of clarity.


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