Leicesters new £30 million recycling plant was ravaged by fire this week and will not open this month as planned.
The news came as a blow to Leicester City Council, which had seen the Biffa-owned site near Beaumont Leys as a key part of its plan to achieve a 40% recycling rate by 2005.
A council spokesman admitted that the sites opening would be delayed, but insisted the fire had not harmed current recycling levels. Refuse and green box collections will not be affected, he said. This is a short-term setback affecting a long-term project.
The fire began after engineering works in the ball mill, although the precise cause has not yet been established. Earlier this week Leicestershire Fire and Rescue duty officer Ian Luckyear told MRW: The fire started at 10.30am Sunday morning and we still have a number of officers at the scene, trying to establish what started it.
Damage to the plant was limited to the ball mill itself plus some of the roof. The plant also suffered water damage as a result of the fire crews efforts to bring the blaze under control.
Nobody was hurt in the incident, which involved more than 50 firefighters.
Biffa Leicester general manager Mick Davis said: We are currently working with both fire service and specialist engineers to discover the cause of the fire and assess the damage. Once we have determined the cause, we will then be in a position to decide on the opening of the plant.