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Waste4Fuel site finally cleared

Bromley Council in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) have announced the clearance of a huge pile of waste from the former Waste4Fuel site in south-east London.

After years of legal wrangling, fires, interventions from MPs and anger from local residents, the waste has finally been cleared up and representatives of Bromley Council and the EA were at the site on 17 November to celebrate.

Around 9,000 tonnes was removed from the site in the last six weeks or so, elminating the risk of spontaneous fires. This final phase of the clearance has been completed ahead of schedule by Veolia, the council’s waste management contractor. In total, approximately 27,000 tonnes of waste has been removed from the former Waste4Fuel site.

Colin Smith, leader of the council, said “This day clearly belongs to our long suffering local residents who have been so incredibly patient, trustful and supportive of the council throughout this difficult and complex process.”

Julie Foley, area manager for the EA, said “We understand how frustrating the situation has been for residents and thank them for their patience. We have worked hard with London Borough of Bromley and Veolia to get the site cleared, whilst helping to ensure there is no impact on the environment and local people.

“It had taken a long time to get to this point, but we have had to overcome a number of difficult funding, legal and technical problems. We had to make sure that the site was cleared but most importantly that we had to make sure it could never become a waste site again”.

London Fire Brigade responded to more than 230 fires, involving 3,000 working hours at a cost of £914,000. MRW has reported the whole sorry affair.

  • April 2013: EA serves a suspension notice on Waste4Fuel’s site at St Paul’s Cray, south east London, after a series of fires hit the facility. London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority serves a separate notice requiring improvements. Orpington MP Jo Johnson gets involved.
  • November 2013: Yet more fires lead to the EA gaining a High Court order requiring Waste4Fuel to clear the site of combustible waste. The company and director Bryan Hughes were warned they would be in contempt of court if they fail to do so.
  • February 2014: London Fire Brigade prosecutes company after being called to 12 fires within a year. It is fined £1,000.
  • July 2014: The High Court dismisses EA claim the company is in contempt of court after failing to remove waste, because the injunction’s wording was “unclear”. EA serves notice to prevent any further waste being dumped.
  • August 2014: EA takes over site after it is abandoned by the owners. Waste4Fuel begins insolvency proceedings.
  • September/October 2014: EA revokes company’s waste permit. Former environment secretary Liz Truss gets involved. Another two fires hit the site and the remaining director, Shelley Hurst, resigns.
  • January 2015: Waste4Fuel’s 18 creditors file claims totalling more than £680,000, as insolvency firm asks for company to be wound up.
  • March 2015: EA investigates links between organised waste crime and dumping at the abandoned site.
  • September/November 2016: Bromley buys the site, contributing £300,000 to the overall costs involved in purchase and cleaning up while the EA picks up the rest of the tab. Clearance begins by Veolia and local waste company Pindens.
  • November 2017: Site is declared clear.

 

This article was amended on 20 November to correct the figures invovled in Bromley buying the site

Readers' comments (1)

  • This site has been a national disgrace and has exemplified the weaknesses in regulation surrounding waste operators going into liquidation and what happens if tough enforcement action is not taken early enough. I wish the residents and Fire Service a happy and peaceful Christmas

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