An Orpington Recycling Centre has been prosecuted by London Fire Brigade for stacking flammable materials 12 times in excess of the size legally allowed. The Brigade has been called out to the centre 12 times in the last year.
The latest fire at the Waste 4 Fuel site on Cornwall Drive was on Monday, with the company already subject of a High Court Injunction obtained by the Environment Agency requiring it to remove all combustible waste by 1 May.
On Thursday at Bromley Magistrate’s Court the company pleaded guilty to maintaining a stack of flammable material larger than the size allowed without the permission of the fire authority. It was fined the maximum of £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,860 plus a £100 victim surcharge -a total of £8,960.
The court case followed a fire in the waste stack on 18 March last year – at that time the stack was estimated to contain around 6,000 tonnes of material.
Fire safety inspecting officers from the Brigade visited the site after the fire and formally notified the owners that the waste stack was so large they would need consent for it under the Greater London Council (General Powers Acts). The company applied to London Fire Brigade for permission in May but this was refused on the grounds that the size of the stack posed a high fire risk and its size would make firefighting difficult.
Due to concern that, despite warnings from the Brigade, the size of the waste stack wasn’t being reduced, a survey was carried out to establish its size. Stacks larger than 48,000 cubic feet usually require legal permission and the stack of materials on the Waste 4 Fuel site was found to be 573,475 cubic feet – around 12 times that size.
Following the successful prosecution London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Head of Fire Safety Regulation Mark Andrews said: “While we welcome this conviction we are fully aware that there has been a history of problems at the Waste 4 Fuel site on Cornwall Drive, with firefighters being called out to attend 12 incidents there in the last year alone. This causes considerable distress and disruption to people in the area, as well as placing an on-going drain on our resources, and we are continuing to work with the Environment Agency to resolve the problem once and for all.”