EA revokes Averies operating licence following fire

The Environment Agency (EA) is revoking the operating licences of Swindon-based recycling company Averies Recycling (Swindon) Limited (ARSL) and its affiliate company Swindon Skips, following a ‘significant’ fire at a waste site in Marshgate.

ARSL's site at Marshgate

In July of this year, around 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste caught alight at the ARSL plant in Marshgate, which was only put out in September after the EA took action to remove 1,000 tonnes of waste to allow ‘aggressive firefighting’ to start.

This followed on from ARSL’s failure to remove 3,000 tonnes of waste from the site to allow firefighters access to the seat of the fire.

The EA estimated the cost of tackling the fire, which burned from 21 July until 15 September, was approximately £500,000.

Off the back of this, the EA has now issued revocation notices to both ARSL and Swindon Skips (coming into effect on 11 December, unless appealed), which prohibit any further waste activities from take place and require all waste to be removed from the Swindon Skips Brindley Close site by 4 March and the ARSL Marshgate site by 15 April 2015.

The EA has also refused to renew the registration of ARSL as a waste carrier, meaning it can no longer transport waste in that name.

Swindon Borough Council could face clean-up bill

EA Environment Manager Colin Chiverton commented: “We understand the frustration of local residents and businesses and we have been working hard to bring both sites back into compliance. It is always our aim to get site operators to run their sites properly and it is our role to give operators the opportunity to come into compliance. This has not happened which is why we have now issued revocation notices for both permits.

“Businesses have a duty of care on waste they produce and must ensure that when they arrange for waste to be collected they use waste carrier who is registered and that waste is being taken to a legitimate site.”

He added that businesses can check online if a waste carrier is appropriately registered.

If Lee Averies, who owns both businesses, fails to comply with the notices, the cost of waste removal from the Swindon Skips site at Brindley Close on Cheney Manor could fall to Swindon Borough Council, as it owns the land. The council has not said how much the removal could cost, but the Swindon Advertiser is reporting that it could be in the region of £2 million.

Waste site fires commonplace

Fires at waste sites are commonplace, with figures released last year showing that between 2001 and 2012, the average rate of fires at waste and recycling works came in at just under one per day. 

In an attempt to prevent fires from occurring, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum issued new guidance last month to help waste site operators reduce fire risk.

Endorsed by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA), and developed with input from the Environment Agency (EA), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Health and Safety Laboratories (HSL), and other bodies, the guidance outlines how best to safely manage the storage of materials susceptible to combustion.

The Operations Director of the CFOA, Roy Wilsher, said that the guidance was “hugely useful”.

Find out more about waste fire guidance.

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