Recycling firm at centre of Potters Crouch fire could be facing enforced closure

PUBLISHED: 12:21 04 March 2013

Fire at Wood Recycling Services, Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch

Fire at Wood Recycling Services, Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch

IAN DAVIES

THE company responsible for the Appspond Lane fire in Potters Crouch may be shut down as the Environment Agency has served notices to revoke its environmental permits.

If an appeal is not lodged, Wood Recycling Services could cease operations as early as March 22 and would have to remove all wood and composting waste on site.

The company is already blocked from accepting any more materials after the Environment Agency (EA) issued suspension notices to their environmental permits back in September, in order to “manage the risk of heat, fire and serious pollution”.

An EA statement said: “We have been concerned about the excessive volumes of waste on site, and the associated environmental risk, since winter 2011.”

Around 10,000 tonnes of recycled wood caught alight just after midnight on November 10 last year at the recycling centre, causing a huge bonfire next to the motorway for about two months. Smoke can still be seen around the site.

The blaze wreaked havoc across the district and made day-to-day living extremely difficult for many nearby residents in Potters Crouch.

It was the third time that materials at the waste recycling depot in Potters Crouch had caught alight in around 10 years according to one neighbour.

Electricity was cut off and the water supply was contaminated meaning some people had to be supplied with bottled water.

Several residents campaigned for the site’s closure for years, including a nearby farmer who did not want to be named.

She said of the news the site may close: “Yes we’re very happy, but we’re worried they’re going to do a runner.”

The resident has suffered quite a lot from the fire and one of her horses developed asthma from all the smoke.

She said: “Until about two weeks ago Wood Recycling Services was still burning at night.

“On February 6, there was a north wind and my bedroom was full of smoke, so they had obviously been burning stuff.

“My horse nearly collapsed and the next day I rang the Environment Agency.”

She claimed that wood was being piled onto a bonfire and this stopped following her phone call, but she added piles of compost were still combusting and smoking.

St Albans MP Anne Main said: “I am pleased that firm action has now been taken following the representations I have made to the Environment Agency and the numerous complaints and concerns expressed by local residents.

“I am sorry that it has taken such a huge environmental disaster to bring this site to closure, and I hope the local residents see a speedy clear up and that careful consideration is given to the future of the site.”

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