James Brokenshire has said steps to secure the Waste4Fuel site and put in place immediate measures to reduce the fire risk are long overdue. The action comes following an assessment by the Environment Agency that the waste site just off Sevenoaks Way close to the A20 has been abandoned by the current operators. The rubbish pile has caught fire on numerous occasions over recent months and the site continues to cause significant smell and smoke problems for residents in Foots Cray and Sidcup.
It’s now over a week since Waste4Fuel staff have been seen prompting the Environment Agency to treat the site as abandoned and instructing contractors to install new fencing. The site fencing will secure the site and reduce the potential impact for trespass, arson, or other anti-social behaviour. The London Fire Brigade have also developed an active monitoring and mitigation plan to help reduce the continuing fire risk on site.
It is expected that there will be further discussions next week on the long term future of the site and steps to remove the waste pile. Under the Environment Act, clean up obligations remain with the site operator and the landowner. However, the Environment Agency has committed to work with those responsible together with other agencies including the London Borough of Bromley to come up with a solution to deal with the waste deposited.
James Brokenshire has joined fellow MPs Bob Neill and Jo Johnson to press the Environment Agency to take swift action to address the continuing problem. James has underlined the need for a comprehensive action plan at two roundtable meetings with senior Environment Agency officials in the last few weeks. James has also been in contact with Ron Dobson, the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, to seek reassurance that further fire safety measures will be put in place.
In a separate move, the three MPs have sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister underlining the serious detrimental impact the site is having on the quality of life of local people. The letter seeks the Prime Minister’s input to help resolve the situation and bring relief to local residents.
Commenting, James said:
“I welcome news that action is finally being taken to secure the site and deal with the significant volumes of waste which have been deposited. My continuing concern is that it has simply taken too long to get to this point and the scale of the problem has got a lot worse during this time.
“It’s clear to me that Waste4Fuel have absolutely no intention to remove the waste dumped by them and have almost been treating the site as something akin to a licensed fly tip. Abandoning the site and leaving it to others to pick up the problems they have caused sums up their whole attitude to their responsibilities to the community.
“The short term measures planned should provide some immediate respite to local residents. However, it’s important that a proper long term solution is established to remove the rubbish mountain. The Environment Agency needs to take the lead on this plan given that they licensed the waste management activity on the site in the first place.
“It’s also important that managers at Waste4Fuel are pursued for their failure to meet the obligations placed on them under their license. They can’t be allowed to simply walk away from the serious problems they have caused and the impact their actions have had on local people.”