Worksop: Boss calls for cut in recycling bureaucracy after fires

Worksop recycling centre
Worksop recycling centre

The director of Notts Recycling Ltd is calling for a review of UK recycling laws now that the fire at Worksop Recycling Centre is finally out.

Group director Warren Steele said the Shireoaks Road recycling centre was one of six major UK recycling companies that have gone up in flames this summer.

Several blazes kept firefighters and staff busy for weeks, and the whole episode has cost the business more than £2 million.

“Government targets to reduce landfill mean local authorities are diverting waste to companies like us who export it abroad,” said Mr Steele.

“There is currently a three month wait to obtain an Environment Agency export permit, forcing companies to store large amounts of waste on our premises, causing fires.”

“From a financial point of view, our business has suffered in excess of £2m pounds in loss in August due to equipment and revenue loss. As a result of the fires, we did not trade at all in August.”

“My grateful thanks goes out to both the NRL staff that worked tirelessly as well as the extensive efforts of the Notts Fire and Rescue crews for controlling the situation that we had.”

“Lastly, we appreciate the input and assistance from the planning department, the Environment Agency and Public Health England.”

Mr Steele said a forum would be set up in the wake of this summer’s fires to work out why they happened and what can be done to prevent future incidents.

“From a monitoring, emergency services and licensing point of view, a review of UK waste legislation needs to take place that ensures both operators and compliance monitoring have sufficient scope to work realistically to meet the government’s diversion from landfill targets.”

Firefighters finally withdrew their equipment from Worksop Recycling Centre on Wednesday 4th September, nearly five weeks since the first fire started in a waste storage building.

It took days to put out. Then on Wednesday 21st August fire crews were called back to a second, separate fire.

Smoke has filled the air around Worksop, with residents advised to keep windows and doors closed.

Firefighters worked around the clock to keep the fire under control.

“We had to deal with several deep-seated fires in various parts of the site, over an area the size of a football pitch, up to five metres deep,” said Notts Fire and Rescue area manager Craig Parkin.

“This made it extremely difficult for our fire crews to access them. We managed to stop the fires spreading to other areas of the site, averting a much larger incident, but the process was extremely difficult and time-consuming.”

Firefighters spoke of the ‘treacherous’ conditions they faced, along with staff from Notts Recycling Ltd who used diggers to pull apart mounds of waste so it could be drenched.

One said: “There was a lot of wood, soil and chippings in the waste which is all biodegradable andcan self-ignite.”

“A fire can be burning underground for months and you might not realise.”