Clear-up work of the Waste4Fuel refuse site in Orpington, Kent, which has been blighted by scores of fires, has begun.
In September, the London Borough of Bromley bought the site from its owner and set out to remove the 15,000 tonnes of abandoned waste stored there.
Now, after several weeks of logistical planning by the council’s waste contractor Veolia, the first truck containing approximately 15 tonnes of waste left the site on 1 November.
The council said waste removal is expected to take around 20 weeks to complete, with work taking place Mondays to Saturdays.
Veolia is working with local waste company Pindens, which will sort the waste after it leaves site to recover any recyclable materials.
The works will be monitored by the Environment Agency (EA), and measures will be taken to reduce the fire risk and nuisance from dust, litter and smells, the council said.
Some local traffic disruption is likely during the work, with heavy vehicles travelling to and from the site, but Veolia has been tasked to minimise the impact.
Council leader Stephen Carr said: “We are committed to removing this eyesore as quickly as we can with the minimum of fuss and inconvenience to local residents.
“So many peoples’ lives have been affected by this for so long, but today marks a new beginning and I am optimistic for the future.”
Regional manager for Veolia in south-east London Sean Trotter said: “We are delighted to be undertaking this important operation.
“Veolia has a great deal of skill and experience in handling waste materials and treating them in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.
“We will be working closely with the council, the EA and the local community to ensure that we remove the waste safely and efficiently.”
The council’s purchase of the land in September followed extensive negotiations between the EA and the site’s owner, brokered by the council, which announced the deal in principle in August.
The estimated total cost of securing the land, including the access road leading to the dump, and clearing the huge mound is estimated to be £2.7m, with the EA contributing the bulk of the funding and the council contributing £300,000.
The London Fire Brigade said it has spent more than 3,000 working hours and £914,000 in time and firefighting resources at the Waste4Fuel site.