St Albans MP criticises Environment Agency over management of Appspond Lane site

St Albans & Harpenden Review: MP criticises Environment Agency over management of site in Potters Crouch MP criticises Environment Agency over management of site in Potters Crouch

St Albans MP Anne Main has criticised the Environment Agency (EA) over the environmental management of a site which was the scene of a massive fire for more than two weeks last year.

This comes after a consultation took place to consider whether an environmental permit would be granted to Navitas Environmental Limited to build and operate a biomass boiler at Appspond Lane.

Since 1997 Appspond Lane has been used for composting and since 2008 Wood Recycling Servies Limited operated on the site.

The recycling centre in Potters Crouch, became blaze for several weeks, after the wood chipping and waste composting facility caught alight in November last year.

In February this year, the centre had its environmental licence revoked by the agency and in March the company went in to liquidation. Although the company has gone into administration they maintain responsibility of clearing up the site, including removal of all wood and composting waste from the site.

In a statement released by Ms Main’s office it explained the site was run the Lupson family across this time, despite family members being prosecuted on three counts of waste mismanagement over the same period.

As a result of this the MP said she has been in close contact with both the Environment Agency and the Minister regarding the site cleanup but also environmental regulation more broadly.

She also reiterated the need for rules to be tighter to stop “cowboy operators from dodging the law by simply setting up new companies with a different name.”

The statement explained although Ms Main has received assurances that the regulation would be looked at, following investigation into NEL it appears that there are clear links between NEL and the Lupson’s last company, WRSL, which ran the site at the time of the fire. Mrs Main has informed the EA about this link, however the EA state that they must treat NEL as a separate legal entity and so appear to be ‘considering approving the application’.

After sending her submission opposing the permit to the EA Ms Main’s office issued the following statement.

She said: “This is exactly the sort of scenario I wanted to stop. It seems that all the Lupsons need to do to continue blighting the lives of my constituents at Appspond is get an associate to start up a new company identity and apply for the permit.

“I was given reassurances that environmental regulation would be tightened to stop cowboy operators. As it appears this is not the case, I have sent a copy of my submissions to the EA to both the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for DEFRA.

“Considering all that my constituents have been put through with mismanagement of this site, I find it startling that the EA seems to be minded to grant this permit and I will continue to do what I can to fight it.”

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