The Environment Agency’s failure to listen to tyre recyclers on stack sizes could inadvertently increase the risk of fires on waste sites.
This was the message from the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) today as it urged the Agency to amend its controversial Fire Prevention Plan guidance.
Currently the Environment Agency is undertaking a periodic review of the guidance, which is due to be published in the coming weeks.
The document will review current procedure for stack sizes and separation distances on waste sites, with contributions from the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum, Chief Fire Officers Association and Wood Recyclers Association.
But criticising the review process, the TRA has argued it has “repeatedly” called for amendments to the permitted stack heights and fire breaks in the guidance over the past four years, to little avail.
The TRA believes that if due action is not taken, unregulated businesses will profit while those with a proven background will rapidly be forced out of the industry.
It continued that there are “hundreds if not thousands” of unregulated tyre recycling sites currently operating under exemptions, meaning they “could choose not to adhere” to new requirements set out by the Agency. This, it argues, will inadvertently lead to an increase in fires.
TRA secretary general, Peter Taylor OBE, said: “If you put the good guys out of business you’ll end up with the vacuum filled by those operating on exemptions, which does not make sense.
“The proposed stack heights and separation dimensions are neither based on good science nor actual experience and if implemented would require the tripling or quadrupling of site area to accommodate the same capacity as currently accommodated at these site. Clearly, that is not viable for reputable businesses, which will simply fold if they try to conform.”
The lack of “good science” in tackling waste fires was highlighted by WISH forum chair Chris Jones in an interview with letsrecycle.com last month, who admitted there was no hard data to stack measurements or separation distances (see letsrecycle.com story).
Mr Jones added that controlled fire tests are now due to be conducted on waste materials after a 12-month delay, with the results due to be published in spring 2016.
The message from the TRA follows some concerns raised by the Wood Recyclers Association, which called on the Agency last month to widen its consultation with waste industry members in its “restricted” review (see letsrecycle.com story).
Release of the latest stack size and separation distances outlined by the Agency in March 2015 has seen it clash with the wood recycling sector. In August Hadfield Wood Recyclers stopped accepting lower grade waste wood to its Manchester and Middlesbrough sites for fear of enforcement action.
TRA concluded that it “supports entirely” the view expressed by Hadfield’s in urging the Agency to implement changes to the plan.