In a statement following the announcement that Hadfield Wood Recyclers has been forced to temporarily close for business at its Middlesbrough and Manchester sites, the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) has blamed the introduction of the Fire Prevention Plan (FPP), calling the guidance “unworkable”.
The WRA statement said it was “very sorry” that Hadfield has closed, and it hopes that it and the Environment Agency will “find a workable solution soon”. But in the statement, Andy Hill, chairman of the WRA is quoted as saying: “From a commercial perspective this guidance [the FPP] is unworkable. It is not based on any science or fact but on conjecture and un-informed opinion.
With further fire tests already in the pipeline, the statement added: “The WRA do not understand why the Environment Agency did not wait until the fire tests had been completed before issuing the new FPP document”.
Andy Hill: “We have repeatedly advised the EA on this point and despite working proactively and closely with the EA, WISH and the Fire Service, the EA have decided to continue enforcing this position as evidenced at a number of our member sites. We will continue to work hard with stakeholders to establish the science in order to create a relevant, sensible and commercially viable position. To this end the WRA are funding further burn trials scheduled for September. We remain hopeful that the EA will continue to work with us to reach a sensible position”.
Permitted sites are required to abide by regulatory guidance, but the WRA believe that the stack sizes for wood in the Fire Prevention Plan document are commercially unrealistic. It explained that it wrote to Harvey Bradshaw, the Environment Agencies Head of Regulated Industry, earlier this year to complain about the sudden introduction of the FPP document, warning it that the FPP was “seriously flawed” and would “needlessly damage and even destroy existing compliant businesses if implemented in its current form”.
“We requested that it was withdrawn immediately and asked the Environment Agency to re-join and consult with the Fire and Rescue Service, other regulators and industry before releasing any more documents about fires at waste management sites,” the statement reiterated, adding that “since then a number of WRA members have confirmed that the small stack sizes and separation distances required by the FPP are commercially unworkable”.
The statement adds: “The WRA are working closely with the Chief Fire Officers Association, London Fire Brigade, the Environment Agency, the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH), the Environmental Services Association and Stobart Biomass to expedite planned practical fire tests.
“The practical fire tests are designed to give scientific evidence about how fires start and develop in waste wood stacks. This evidence will inform and support future regulatory guidance that protects against fire but that is also commercially viable.
“The Environment Agency have always been aware of these impending tests. The WRA do not understand why the Environment Agency did not wait until the fire tests had been completed before issuing the new FPP document.”