The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) agreed to work together with the Agency in December on a template for the development of FPPs. This came after lobbying by the WRA due over concerns about the impact of FPP guidance on the sector (see letsrecycle.com story).
FPPs are a permitting requirement for operators of any site seeking to handle combustible waste materials – including wood.
Updated FPP guidance was published in July 2016, which included amendments to rules stipulating restrictions on the permissible stack size for piles of waste material.
The updated FPP guidance states that site operators must outline steps to be taken on-site to minimise the risk of a fire happening, to prevent the spread of fire within the site and to neighbouring sites; and to aim to extinguish a fire within four hours.
WRA has claimed that some parts of the updated guidance are ‘unworkable’ for larger operators, including a reduction in the maximum height that operators are allowed to stack material.
At a conference in November, Environment Agency officials said that the FPP guidance contains ‘room for flexibility’ for site operators, provided they meet the three primary objectives outlined above (see letsrecycle.com story).
The template work will seek to define acceptable ‘alternative measures’ that wood recyclers can incorporate into their plans to ensure that the overall objectives of the FPP guidance are met. It is hoped that this will provide flexibility to gain approval for site-specific FPPs.
“Having a template will help WRA members and other wood reprocessors and recyclers understand what alternative measures they will need to have in place when putting forward proposals for bespoke pile sizes and storage durations.”
WRA is now establishing a working group to take a draft of the template forward. And, as part of this work the WRA will develop a model to create appropriate calculation methods which will define storage and pile size guidelines for different fraction sizes of wood.
Julia Turner, executive director of the Wood Recyclers Association, said: “We have had an initial meeting with the EA to begin work on this template and are now putting together a working group together to take it forward.
“Having a template will help WRA members and other wood reprocessors and recyclers understand what alternative measures they will need to have in place when putting forward proposals for bespoke pile sizes and storage durations.
“We hope that in working with the EA in this way we will be able to agree a level of flexibility that will allow operators who need site-specific FPPs to be able to continue running their sites in a way the EA is satisfied minimises the risk to the environment.”
Commenting on the work, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are committed to working with wood recyclers and other industry partners to increase safety and reduce the numbers of fires at waste sites across England. We are working with the Wood Recyclers Association to develop a template to aid their members when compiling Fire Prevention Plans (FPPs). This will help speed up the process and improve the standard of submissions if an operator requires to deviate from standard FPP guidance.”
Metal recyclers are also working on sector-specific guidance with the Agency through the British Metals Recycling Association for FPPs for scrap sites (see letsrecycle.com story).