Biomass boiler on site of two-week fire criticised by St Albans MP

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The fire in November 2012 The fire in November 2012

The decision to grant an environmental permit to a renewable energy company on a site, which was the scene of a massive fire for more than two weeks, has been criticised by St Albans MP Anne Main.

The Environment Agency (EA) announced it would be granting Navitas Environmental Limited an environmental permit to operate a biomass boiler on site at Appspond Lane yesterday.

The recycling centre in Potters Crouch, became blaze for several weeks, after the wood chipping and waste composting facility caught alight in November 2012.

In a statement released by her office, Mrs Main said she was disappointed.

It read: "The EA owes it to my constituents to ensure that there is rigorous oversight of the property and that we do not see a repeat of the malpractice which resulted in a serious and damaging fire.

"There was a loss of power to the Noke Lane water pumps, leaving properties without water supply for several weeks - this is entirely unacceptable.

"There is a long history of mismanagement at the site and the EA must reassure me and my constituents that this will never happen again. I am arranging a meeting with the EA to seek these assurances including, local residents must be convinced that they will not be fobbed off with repeated claims that the site will be run properly, when in reality there is little scrutiny.

"I will be making it clear to the EA that strict oversight and compliance is what needed to protect my constituents and the surrounding area. If something isn’t going to plan, there needs to be speedy intervention to rectify this."

In response Ash Dobson, EA spokesperson said the application had been "carefully considered" and he understood the concerns of the local community.

He said: "After a thorough assessment, we are satisfied that the facility, as designed, will meet the high standards defined under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

"We understand that the local community may be concerned at the prospect of having another waste facility involving wood operating on Appspond Lane. EA is taking every precaution to ensure the site is run properly and safely. 

"We have carried out a very detailed assessment of the operator’s proposals and we are satisfied that if the plant is built as described and operated in accordance with the permit conditions there will be no risk to the environment.

"We will ensure they keep to the conditions of their permit and adopt best practice. If they breach any condition of the permit we will take appropriate action against them."

The permit includes limits on the amounts of wood that can be stored and processed on site.


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