St Albans MP’s anger over latest wood mountain blaze

The huge pile of wood on Appspond Lane remains despite intervention from the Environment Agency

The huge pile of wood on Appspond Lane remains despite intervention from the Environment Agency - Credit: Archant

Yet another blaze has broken out in a mountain of wood waste.

Fire fighters from St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Garston dashed to the Appspond Lane waste site in Potters Crouch, after a fire started at 12.28am last Saturday.

A spokesman for the Herts Fire and Rescue Service, who described the wood as ‘well alight’ upon the crews’ arrival, said the blaze was extinguished by 6.04am the same day.

It follows a blaze which ripped through the mountain of waste several years ago, which upset neighbouring residents because they had to endure a constant pall of smoke for months.

That fire started in November 2012 and took until February 2013 to extinguish because of the excessive volume of wood, which was to have been recycled.

The latest fire has again prompted St Albans MP Anne Main to express her frustration over the unsightly mound - an ongoing source of controversy as it has contained excessive volumes of wood waste for several years.

Its new owner, Navitas, which gained an environmental permit last year, had promised it would remove thousands of tonnes of the waste.

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Criticising the management of the site, situated in St Albans’ Green Belt fringes, between the M1 and A414 near Hemel Hempstead, Mrs Main said that, “allowing piles of wood to build up in excess of the agreed terms was an accident waiting to happen.

“The fact the Environment Agency (EA) and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue could not meet with the operator to discuss site management, and the subsequent fire, speaks volumes about the unsafe nature of this site.

“With thousands of tonnes of wood still there, and Navitas unable to find viable alternatives to remove it, there remains a risk of this kind of incident reoccurring.”

Mrs Main called upon the EA to show some ‘tough love’ as the facility was being turned into a “perpetual rubbish dump rather than the wood recycling facility it is supposed to be”.

A spokeswoman for the EA said: “A site meeting has been arranged on Friday July 10 with the site operator and the group commander for fire and rescue.

“We will be asking [Navitas] for an updated fire prevention plan and a plan of action for the site in future, including timescales.”

She added: “If they fail to meet the deadlines we will consider what enforcement action we can take.”