The Environment Agency (EA) has delayed publication of guidance for fire prevention plans (FPPs) because it is undertaking an economic impact analysis of the potential changes.
A consultation on the proposed new regulations, which included the scale of combustible waste piles and their separation distances, closed in March.
Fire tests to provide empirical evidence for future storage regulations ran alongside this.
Now a letter from the EA, published by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), says the agency will publish the updated guidance after scoping the first stage of the economic impact analysis, which will take “longer than expected”.
It reads: “We have now met with Defra economists who are assisting us with this assessment, and they have provided us with a timetable for when it will be completed. Due to the complexities and range of variables involved, we will have to deliver this by a phased approach.
“We have been advised that it may take approximately three months to complete. We intend to publish the FPP guidance after scoping the first stage of this qualitative assessment.”
The EA said 237 FPPs had been submitted since July, of which 82 (35%) had been accepted and 155 (65%) rejected.
It said: “The quality of plans is improving and the acceptance rate has increased from its initial level of less than 10%.”
Waste teams across the country are set to begin site audits to check compliance with approved FPPs, with some in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire already underway.
Pile sizes and distances, detection systems, fire walls, suppression systems and site security were being checked, as well as:
- Paperwork and records – maintenance schedules, daily fire checks, training, transfer notes, stock rotation, location and site plans
- Procedures – waste treatment, waste acceptance, ignition sources, dust management, integrity of infrastructure
- Emergency response – containment, disposal of waste, firefighting equipment, water supply
In March, Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) chair Andy Hill said he was “delighted” that 129 people had replied to the consultation, and urged members to keep up the pressure on decision-makers.
He said some members feared for their livelihoods if the proposed guidance did not change, and the WRA wanted “more flexibility within agreed realms of safety” and increased input from the fire and rescue services.