The London Borough of Bromley is set to acquire the site of a notorious refuse mountain in Kent.
A land deal has been agreed in principle for the council to take over the former Waste4Fuel site in Orpington, which houses 15,000 tonnes of abandoned waste, with a view to clearing the land.
The agreement follows extensive and complex negotiations between the Government, the Environment Agency (EA) and the site’s owner, brokered by the council.
Subject to finalisation of the contract and other legal conditions, the council now seems set to acquire the site in the coming weeks, with the EA then to fund clearance work.
The council said it will assess the exact extent of the clearance work when it has access to the site.
Deputy leader Colin Smith said: “I have said many times, over many months, that Bromley Council would stand by long-suffering local residents and get this disgusting heap of rubbish removed. I am absolutely delighted for them all that we now seem to be on the cusp of achieving that goal.
“This has not been an easy journey for anybody, to put it mildly, involving meetings brokered by Bromley Council, with audiences ranging from local residents to ministers of state, concerning court cases, legal disputes, complications caused by planning law and prolonged negotiations to secure the site’s ownership, but we are now tantalisingly close.
“I am ever more hopeful that the legalities will be completed shortly and, at that point, ownership of the site will be secured, which will allow us to then focus on beginning the site’s clearance.
“There is work still to do but, once completed, we will be able to state with absolute certainty that the site will never again be used in this way.”
Last year the London Fire Brigade said it had attended 233 incidents since January 2012 at the site in Cornwall Drive, which is close to housing and the A20 Sidcup bypass.
It said it had spent more than 3,000 working hours and £914,000 in time and firefighting resources during this time.
Waste4Fuel was prosecuted by the fire brigade and fined £1,000 in 2014 after crews were called to 12 fires within a year at its site. It was ordered to pay costs of £7,860 plus a £100 victim surcharge.
The Environment Agency (EA) previously removed some materials to reduce the fire risk and revoked the company’s permit. But it maintained that responsibility for clearing the site lay with Waste4Fuel.
Commenting on the proposed deal, EA area manager for Kent and South London Andrew Pearce said: “This is an extreme case and we have worked hard to secure a deal to clean up the site.
“The EA is actively pursuing those responsible for depositing waste at the site or who have profited from it. We appreciate just how difficult it has been for local residents, and we are pleased that it looks as if the site can soon be finally cleared.”