Potters Crouch blaze site is finally being cleared

Fire at Wood Recycling Services, Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch

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

A CLEAR-up operation has begun on the site of a major wood recycling centre fire despite the disappearance of the site operators.

Around 10,000 tonnes of recycled wood at the Appspond Lane wood recycling centre between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead went up in smoke in November resulting in a two-month-long bonfire alongside the M1 motorway and problems for neighbours.

The fire was not finally declared to be out until February 8 this year and shortly afterwards, Wood Recycling Services went into liquidation.

Despite being required to clear the site the operators, the Lupson family, walked away in July leaving it in the same state as before the fire.

St Albans MP Anne Main has been putting pressure on the Environment Agency (EA) to ensure the site is cleared at no cost to the taxpayer.

She has also been pushing the EA to pursue and punish those responsible for the fire - one of several which had broken out there over the past decade.

In June, the EA assured Mrs Main that they would be taking action against the Lupson’s as well as ensuring that the site was cleared.

Most Read

Since the Lupsons left, the landowner has taken responsibility for the land and so far 80 lorry loads of ash have been removed.

The EA hopes that the rest of the ash, compost and chipped wood can be removed in the coming weeks. Once that is done, the remaining wood can be moved into smaller piles making management and fire prevention easier.

The wood will then be examined to help determine the different options for removing it from the site.

Mrs Main said this week:“I am pleased that this site is finally being cleared up, after years of mismanagement by the Lupson family. I want to see this land restored to an acceptable state and I am pleased that the landowner and the Environment Agency are working together to remove this hazardous blot from the landscape.

“Whilst this is good news, I still want to see those responsible for the damage caused brought to justice.

“I have received assurances from the Environment Agency that they are seeking to do this and I will continue to follow this closely.”

She added: “It will be some months before the site will be cleared completely and I hope we can make sure that nothing like last year’s fire is allowed to happen again.”