Go-ahead for biomass boiler at St Albans blaze site

Fire at Wood Recycling Services, Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch

Fire at Wood Recycling Services, Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch - Credit: Archant

A company planning to build a biomass boiler on the site of a huge blaze 18 months ago has controversially been given a permit to operate at the location.

The Environment Agency (EA) approved Navitas Environmental Limited’s (NEL) application to build a biomass boiler in Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch, last Friday despite residents’ concerns

The permit will allow the operation of a waste incineration plant which includes a wood processing facility and a biomass combustion process, at what will be known as the Navitas Renewable Energy Park (NREP).

A public consultation ran from November 26 to January 10 to field opinion from local people and attracted five comments, including one from local MP Anne Main.

Mrs Main was “disappointed” the permit had been approved and cited the long history of mismanagement at the former Wood Recycling Services site as a reason for opposition.

The Herts Advertiser previously spoke to Mrs Main last December about her concerns for the new operating company.

The MP said that following an investigation into NEL it appeared there were “clear links” between the company and the Lupson family, who ran the site at the time of the fire and faced prosecution between 1997 and 2008 for three counts of waste mismanagement.

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She said the EA owed residents reassurance that the same malpractice which resulted in the serious and damaging fire in November 2012 would not happen again.

Mrs Main went on: “There was a loss of power to the Noke Lane water pumps, leaving properties without water supply for several weeks – this is entirely unacceptable.

“I am arranging a meeting with the EA to seek these assurances: local residents must be convinced that they will not be fobbed off with repeated claims that the site will be run properly, when in reality there is little scrutiny.

“I will be making it clear to the EA that strict oversight and compliance is what is needed to protect my constituents and the surrounding area.

“If something isn’t going to plan, there needs to be speedy intervention to rectify this.”

In response, the EA said they were satisfied that the facility would meet the high standards defined under their regulations.

A spokesperson said they understood the local community might be concerned at the prospect of having another waste facility involving wood operating at the site but they were taking every precaution to ensure the site was run properly and safely.

She went on: “We have carried out a very detailed assessment of the operator’s proposals and we are satisfied that if the plant is built as described and operated in accordance with the permit conditions there will be no risk to the environment.”

The spokesperson said that the permit granted to NEL included limits on the amount of wood that could be stored and also strict conditions that the operator had to meet before they could be operating.

She added: “We will ensure they keep to the conditions of their permit and adopt best practice. If they breach any condition of the permit we will take appropriate action against them.”