A number of waste trade associations have joined together to lobby the Environment Agency over the latest version of its Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) guidance.
The Wood Recyclers Association, the Tyre Recovery Association, the Resource Association and the United Resource Operators Consortium (UROC) are challenging the guidance, which they believe will have a ‘major negative impact’ on the sector if left unaltered.
Waste operators must produce acceptable fire prevention plans in order to minimise the likelihood of fires breaking out on-site or the outbreak spreading to neighbouring properties.
The third version of the FPP guidance, which was published in July, is an update on previous rules stipulating various restrictions on the storage and separation distances between piles of materials in waste sites.
Under the updated guidance, waste operators must not store waste for longer than six months, stack waste no more than four metres high, and keep a separation distance of six metres between stacks.
At a recent Fire Prevention and Control conference in London, Environment Agency officials insisted the guidance contained ‘room for flexibility’, but the trade bodies fear the guidance is ‘too restrictive’ and could force operators out of business or ‘drastically reduce’ their capacities to recycle.
All four trade bodies are ‘keen’ to see a new approach to fire prevention and are asking to work collaboratively with the regulators to achieve more ‘bespoke’ permits.
Andy Hill, Chair of the Wood Recyclers Association which has been campaigning on the issue, said: “We’ve been saying for a long time that the FPP guidance is unworkable for wood operators and as the months have passed that has become more and more obvious. Many site operators are now facing delays in having bespoke environmental permits approved because they can’t achieve the requirements for an FPP.
“We’ve been saying for a long time that the FPP guidance is unworkable for wood operators and as the months have passed that has become more and more obvious.”
Andy Hill, chair
Wood Recyclers Association
“Other areas in the sector are facing the same issues and we’re hoping by joining our efforts together we will have a stronger voice with which to raise our concerns and show they are industry wide.”
Peter Taylor OBE, Secretary General at the Tyre Recovery Association, said: “For many years the TRA and other associations have been trying to independently engage with the EA on this critical subject. However, despite those efforts, the EA has only ever ‘heard’ not ‘listened’ to the point. I am delighted we are now moving forward as a joint force to further those discussions with the EA before our industry suffers any further.”
Jenny Watts, UROC chief executive, said the association was hopeful the Environment Agency will see there are “real problems not isolated to just a few operators”.
She said: “Our members have expressed frustration in respect of the difficulties they are experiencing in implementing the onerous conditions of the FPP guidance, with little support from central permitting when processing applications, and a serious lack of knowledge in relation to local EA officer’s interpretation.”