7 December 2018 by Joshua Doherty

Wood-waste Fire Prevention Plan guidance released

The Wood Recyclers Association has launched a ‘sector-specific’ Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) guide for wood recycling businesses, developed in “close association” with the Environment Agency.

Revealing the guide: (l-r) Peter Buckley, FPP specialist at the Agency, Julia Turner, executive director at the WRA, and Andy Hill, the WRA’s chairman

It is hoped the guide will help wood recyclers meet meet FPP requirements, or to propose alternative measures if they need to move away from the standard guidance, including increased stack heights.

The document outlines the different fraction sizes of waste wood that may be stored and the differences in their storage requirements, as well as “seasonality challenges” faced by the industry, and how to address these in an FPP.

LINK: Wood Waste Fire Prevention Plan Guidance

It is the first to be tailored specifically for a waste stream and was launched at a meeting of the Wood Recycling Association (WRA) this week by Andy Hill, the WRA’s chair.

Commenting on the release, Mr Hill said he was pleased to be able to offer it to the sector, after it took more than a year to develop.

“It was great to be able to actually hold an official published copy of the guide in our hands and show it to our members,” he explained.

Mr Hill added: “We have worked hard to get this far and hope it will make a real difference to our members and others seeking to achieve an FPP as part of their permit requirements.”

Mr Hill launched the guide alongside the Environment Agency’s FPP specialist Peter Buckley and the WRA’s executive director Julia Turner.


All wood recyclers operating a site require an environmental permit, part of which includes a FPP – to demonstrate how the site will take steps to prevent fires, and to tackle a fire should it occur.

The latest Environment Agency FPP guidance, which is for all waste streams, has three objectives. These are:

1: Minimise the likelihood of a fire happening

2: Aim for a fire to be extinguished within 4 hours

3: Minimise the spread of fire within the site and to neighbouring sites.

This also set outs maximum stack heights of four metres for all waste streams, as well as issues such as separation distances and other safety requirements, aimed at the entire waste sector.


Touching on seasonality issues the wood industry faces, as demand is higher in the winter for heat, the WRA guide says that a wood recycler’s FPP must “be designed to account for any envisaged seasonal fluctuations.”

The guidance relates to the storage of waste wood

This can be done through contingency plans that must show how a site owner would adequately manage such scenarios and detail what alternative measures it can take.

The Agency-approved WRA guide also states that if an applicant wants a stack higher than four metres, it could do so if it can demonstrate that the “first objective of the guidance can be met by temperature monitoring and management of the pile”.

The guide added: “In order to be able to demonstrate that the second and third objectives can be met, an applicant may, as an example, have to adjust the location and size of quarantine area, separation distances the methods of active firefighting and the equipment available to tackle any fire or to intervene when the critical ignition temperature is reached.”


The guide also explains that for each different fraction size (unprocessed, pre-crush, chipped and fines), wood recyclers need to provide details of what and how much waste wood they will be storing over the year.

This includes waste once it has been accepted, as well as in storage before and after treatment.

“Wherever possible you should store waste wood in its largest fraction size,” it states.


The plan must also detail how long the different fractions of waste wood are being held, taking into account that no waste can be stored in excess of 6 months.

In exceptional circumstances, and if agreed with the appropriate environmental regulator, waste wood can be stored for longer in line with an agreed seasonal profile.

For those storing combustible wastes in the maximum pile sizes of four metres for longer than three months, or storing in pile sizes that exceed sizes stated in the FPP Guidance, applicants “must show what additional measures you propose to prevent self-combustion ,hotspots or arson and to monitor and manage the temperature of the waste.”


Adding to Mr Hill’s comments, Julia Turner explained that she is proud of the outcome.

She said:  “We would like to thank everyone at the EA and our sector partners for helping us to get to this point. We are extremely proud to be the first trade body to launch a sector-specific guide for our members and hope this will mean many more wood recyclers and reprocessors will now be able to gain approved FPPs in a timely manner.”

Release of the guidance comes soon after UK Wood Recycling (UKWR), part of the Hadfield Group, received approval for the first FPP allowing waste wood to be stored in stacks of up to eight metres in height.

The Middlesbrough-based company will now be able to have stack heights three metres higher than what was previously permitted under the Environment Agency’s FPP guidance (see letsrecycle.com story).

Related Links
WRA – FPP Guidance


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