The Environment Agency has agreed to work with the Wood Recyclers’ Association on a template for the development of fire prevention plans.
The agreement comes after months of lobbying by the Association which has felt that the guidance was a “threat” to the sector in its recent format. And, the WRA has also pointed out that the guidance comes before fire testing work had been completed.
WRA chairman Andy Hill has said: “Our view is that the EA is trying to make one set of rules for all and this approach doesn’t work.”
Now following a meeting of the association with the WRA, Marie Fallon, the Environment Agency’s director of regulated industry, has agreed that the EA will work with the association to develop a template for businesses to help them get their fire prevention plans approved.
At the meeting, Ms Fallon spoke to wood recyclers about the issue of waste fires and the difficulties operators are having in achieving approved fire prevention plans for their sites.
She told the meeting the EA was willing to work with the WRA and would be dedicating two officers to work alongside the association to develop an FPP template for waste wood operators to follow.
An Environment Agency spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “We are committed to working with wood recyclers to ensure safety and reduce the numbers of fires at waste sites in England. We are working with the Wood Recyclers Association to develop a template for members to use when compiling a fire prevention plan (FPP). This will include advice on what to consider when writing one in order to help speed up the process improve the standard of FPP submissions.”
Andy Hill, Chair of the WRA, said he was delighted the EA had come on board and listened to the concerns of wood recyclers “who have been struggling to adhere to FPP guidance” since its various revisions over the past two years.
“We have fought long and hard to try to get our issues understood and I could not be happier that Marie has said the EA are able to help us address the issues and will work alongside us to develop a template for wood recyclers to follow,” said Mr Hill.
“She appreciates we are not trying to skirt around the issue of waste fires and we recognise the need for industry standards to be raised in this area. However, as we have been repeatedly saying for a long time, we need to work with the EA to help them see one size of guidance does not fit all operators and some of the current guidance is simply unworkable for some businesses. Hopefully now we will be able to address those specific issues directly and come up with guidance that achieves the aims of the EA whilst allowing bonafide recyclers to stay in business.”
The Association noted that Ms Fallon told the WRA meeting – looking at data up to the end of September this year (2016) – there had been 262 incidents involving fires on waste sites in the UK since 2012, and only 24 of those involved wood.
And, the Association noted also that Ms Fallon had told the meeting that since the revised FPP guidance was issued, 361 fire prevention plans had been received by the EA, of which 169 had been approved to date
The EA currently has an assessment panel reviewing all FPPs which are submitted for approval, but this will be phased out in the New Year when all area teams have been fully trained to carry out assessments for operators in their area.
The EA is also working with the Chief Fire Officers Association and the CIWM (Chartered Institutes of Waste Management) on training packages for the industry, and is keen to work with the WRA on developing a broader code of practice for wood recyclers.