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Waste firm fined after 12 fires in a year

A recycling firm has been prosecuted by London Fire Brigade and fined after crews were called to 12 fires within a year at its site.

Waste4Fuel, of Cornwall Drive, Orpington, pleaded guilty yesterday at Bromley Magistrates’ Court to maintaining a stack of flammable material larger than the size allowed without the permission of the fire authority.

It was fined the maximum £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,860 plus a £100 victim surcharge.

In the latest incident, which took place last week, crews from two fire appliances took six hours to get the blaze under control.

Fire safety inspectors had visited the site after a fire in March 2013 and found some 6,000 tonnes of material.

This was so large that Waste4Fuel needed fire brigade consent for it, but this was refused in May 2013 on the grounds that the size of the stack posed a high fire risk.

Brigade officers later surveyed the site and found 573,475 cubic feet of waste, some 12 times the amount above which fire authority consent is needed.

London Fire Brigade’s deputy head of fire safety regulation Mark Andrews said: “We are fully aware that there has been a history of problems at the Waste4Fuel site on Cornwall Drive, with firefighters being called out to attend 12 incidents there in the last year alone.

“This causes considerable distress and disruption to people in the area, as well as placing an on-going drain on our resources, and we are continuing to work with the Environment Agency to resolve the problem once and for all.”

He said the brigade had used more than £560,000 worth of time and resources fighting repeated blazes at the site.

The Environment Agency last November won a court order requiring the firm and its director Bryan Hughes to remove the material by the end of April or face contempt of court action. It had earlier served a suspension notice on the site.

An agency spokesperson said after the latest incident: “Waste4Fuel are under a High Court order to clear the site of all combustible waste by 1 May 2014.

“However, we have instructed our legal counsel to return to the High Court as quickly as possible, as we are disappointed with the progress that Waste4Fuel Ltd has made, based on the evidence of waste volumes and lack of fire breaks at the site.”

Waste 4Fuel’s website states: “from multi-million pound construction sites to individual householders, we provide a complete waste4fuel disposal service”. Its advertised phone line appeared to be not functioning.

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