Wood recyclers have said that storage guidance issued by the Environment Agency (EA) to help reduce the number of fires is “unreasonable and unnecessary”.
The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) said some of the EA’s latest Fire Prevention Plan (FPP), currently being consulted on, has “no scientific backing”.
The WRA said the proposed maximum allowable burn time of three to four hours was an “unreasonable and unnecessary target because it does not take into account individual circumstances such as tonnages, material types, weather conditions and the local fire-fighting strategy”.
It added: “The tactics to tackle a fire should be a Fire & Rescue Service rather than an EA decision.”
The EA’s guidance is based on the time that vulnerable members of the local community can be “reasonably expected to shelter” from smoke.
The trade body also called for more deviations from the FPP’s minimum standards to be allowed, reporting that only four of 80 bespoke permit applications under the guidance had been issued so far.
The WRA, which represents 80% of wood recyclers in the UK, is asking members to support its response to the consultation before the 4 March closing date.
Meanwhile fire tests to provide empirical evidence for future storage regulations are running until the end of March.
The WRA repeated its concern from last year that it could not understand why the EA did not wait until the completion of tests intended to inform regulation before issuing the FPP document.
WRA chair Andy Hill said: “Many of our members have already invested heavily to improve fire detection and prevention and other health and safety measures on their sites. We are the first waste stream to hold fire tests to help inform this process, and we have helped and encouraged that process and are now awaiting the results.
“We are concerned that both the EA’s FPP guidance and the consultation were issued prior to the results of any fire tests being known, when those results will undoubtedly help to determine some of the answers to these questions.”
He said the WRA was contacting members to support it in understanding the EA guidance.
“We are encouraging our members to write to their local MPs to raise the issues that concern them about the draft FPP,” Hill added.
The EA last month denied prematurely implementing the new FPP guidance after reports from the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA). TRA secretary general Peter Taylor told MRW at the time that the regulations could “put some operators out of business”.