Wood mountain clearance delay slammed by angry St Albans MP

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

Its name - Navitas - is Latin for energy and zest, yet the company in charge of clearing a mountain of wood waste from a local Green Belt site appears anything but fleet-footed.

And moving at a snail’s pace to remove an unsightly mound of wood still erupting from Potters Crouch has earned site operators Navitas Environmental Ltd a rap over the knuckles from irritated St Albans MP Anne Main.

The politician has again complained to the Environment Agency (EA) about the Appspond Lane waste site, situated in St Albans’ Green Belt fringes, between the M1 and A414 near Hemel Hempstead.

Mrs Main is concerned that thousands of tonnes of wood waste remain despite promises from Navitas - which gained an environmental permit last year - that the pile would be removed.

The site has long been a source of controversy as it has contained excessive volumes of wood waste for years and when a fire broke out in November 2012 it took the previous operators, Wood Recycling Services Ltd, until February 2013 to fully extinguish it.

Mrs Main was told by the EA that 9,500 tonnes remained, even though the agency was hoping the waste would be removed and shipped abroad for incineration.

But the operators have apparently had problems removing the waste mountain because of equipment failure and the closure of an incinerator it was using in Germany for annual maintenance for a month.

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The EA told the politician it was disappointed that no waste had left the site for several months.

A fed-up Mrs Main said: “We have seen little progress. I understand the EA is frustrated but what local residents see is nearly 10,000 tonnes of wood waste.”

An EA spokeswoman said: “We estimate the operator has removed 5,500 tonnes of waste, with a further 9,500 tonnes remaining.”

She said it was “regrettable” Navitas had failed to follow agreed timescales to clear the waste.

Andy Beck, managing director of Navitas, said he was surprised that Mrs Main had complained to the agency, as the firm had not been contacted by her.

He said the company was trying to have the wood processed closer to home, because it was expensive to ship it to Germany.

But Navitas intends clearing the remainder shortly as it will begin building a £60 million biomass boiler at the site this summer, to process 86,000 tonnes of dry wood waste annually to generate 12MW of power.