Hadfield reopens gates amidst EA consultation
The company stopped accepting inbound waste wood at two of its sites in July after the EA threatened the company with enforcement action unless it complied with new guidance for the storage of combustible materials, known as the Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) at its UK Wood Recycling (UKWR) site in Middlesbrough.
Hadfield described this guidance as “completely unworkable” for large-scale operators and temporarily shut its gates to all customers at the site, stopping delivery of low-grade wood to its main recycling facility in Manchester at the same time.
The firm is supplied by a number of local authority contracts, including the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA), which supplies 35,000 tonnes of waste wood a year for treatment at the Manchester site. The UKWR site, meanwhile is used to fuel the Sembcorp Wilton 10 biomass plant.
Fire Prevention Plan
Current FPP guidance was released in March, created to reduce the fire risk at sites holding combustible waste. It was developed following a number of high-profile fires at waste sites and the creation of a joint action plan between the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the EA.
Under the regulations, operators must have a satisfactory written Fire Protection Plan, which assesses the risk of a fire occurring on the site and identifying measures out in place to prevent them and minimise impact, approved by the EA.
When closing its two sites to customers in July, Hadfield argued that it had developed its own bespoke fire plan and spent £250,000 improving the UKWR site, installing measures including heat detection systems and water cannons in conjunction with the Cleveland Fire & Rescue Service.
Now, upon reopening its gates, the company, which says that it has never exceeded storage permits on any of its three sites, has carried out independent fire tests since the closure and submitted a revised Fire Prevention Plan to the EA.
Geoff Hadfield, the company’s MD, said: “We have been carrying out our own set of fire tests and as a result have submitted revised fire plans to the EA, and have made changes to the sites in line with these plans. The plans also include significant scientific data that we believe makes the plans superior to the FPP guidance.”
EA consultation suggests reduced stack sizes
The reopening of the two Hadfield sites coincides with the release of an EA consultation on the Fire Prevention Plan.
The consultation proposes that the maximum pile height for unprepared wood be reduced from 10 metres to five metres, with the maximum pile volume decreasing to 750 metres cubed.
This reduction, the EA says, would enhance heat dissipation from the pile, reducing the likelihood of self-heating resulting in a deep-seated fire in the pile. It also allows for the use of standard machinery to safely move waste during an incident.
Processed wood stacks would also be reduced under the proposals set out in the consultation.
One of the reasons for Hadfield’s closure in July was that new FPP rules meant that stacks were required to be much lower than prior to the new guidance, meaning that the company would be unable to fulfil the Wilton contract.
A Hadfield statement said that ‘small stack sizes will make any large scale operations such as [the UKWR] unworkable because of the scale of waste wood that needs to be stored to meet contract demands’.
As a result, Hadfield leased seven acres of land adjacent to the Middlesbrough site to provide extra storage for waste wood. However, the EA was not willing to agree an extended permit for the space until the UKWR site complied with the storage guidance of the FPP, preventing Hadfield from moving wood to the new site.
The EA consultation will run until 4 March 2016.
The consultation on the Fire Prevention Plan is available at the Environment Agency’s website.