After years of campaigning it is welcome news that the last steps are being put in place to see that the Waste 4 Fuel rubbish pile in Cornwall Drive close to the A20 and Crittal’s Corner is finally cleared. Over the years fires at the site have caused unnecessary pressures for the London Fire Brigade as well as - at times - disruption for motorists.  The resulting smoke, smell and odours drifting across Footscray and Sidcup have been an unpleasant and unwelcome nuisance for local people. 

Confirmation has finally been received that negotiations over the site’s clearance and purchase have been completed, heralding the removal of tonnes of waste that were dumped at the site.  It should bring long overdue relief for residents in the local area who have suffered from the impact of this smouldering rubbish pile for far too long. 

With every passing month, new fires and the need to keep the waste mountain monitored for hot spots meant more money spent and more work for the London Fire Brigade, who have worked ceaselessly and effectively to limit the impact on local residents and businesses. Each new month also meant another month of not being able to open the windows or go out in the garden for local residents – particularly difficult during the summer months.

It has been a long and frustrating process for all concerned requiring a combined team effort.  I’ve joined forces with my Parliamentary colleagues Bob Neill and Jo Johnson as well as Bromley Council, Bexley Council and a number of community and residents groups in a determined and long-running campaign to see the site cleared.

It’s very welcome that the Environment Agency and Bromley Council have agreed a plan to clear this troublesome location.  What isn’t right is that this action was needed because Waste 4 Fuel – the licensed operators – abandoned the site and their duties to the community.  Those responsible for creating what amounts to a gigantic fly-tip should be pursued to the fullest extent available under the law. 

It isn’t acceptable for firms to cash in on waste dumped on their sites and then seemingly be able to walk away from the serious problems they’ve created without any meaningful consequence.  Obligating those seeking a waste licence to take out financial security up front would help reduce this risk and ensure that those operating these sites foot the bill when things go wrong.  I shall be contacting the new Environment Secretary to make her aware of the situation and to urge her to take action to make sure that it never happens again.

The main priority, though, is that this blot on the landscape is dealt with once and for all.  Now that the remaining legal issues have been resolved, I hope that that clearance work can be completed as soon as possible and that those living in the area can finally see this nightmare come to an end.  Action to remove this rubbish mountain and see the site restored can’t come soon enough.