Enforcement notice issued for four-month fire heap

The still smouldering scene at Swarland Brickworks ,Thrunton.
The still smouldering scene at Swarland Brickworks ,Thrunton.

Enforcement action has been taken to get fire waste removed from a site which continues to burn more than four months after it started.

A heap of recycled carpet waste went up in flames at the former Swarland Brickworks site, in Thrunton, on September 3, last year.

Continual smoke from the site has led to a residents’ group being formed to try to get it extinguished quickly for fear of health problems.

But because the site is near a watercourse, it has been left to burn out by itself, rather than being doused with water, to prevent contamination.

Now two-thirds of the waste material has been piled up ready to be removed from the site.

But Blackwater North East, who used the site to recycle carpet, has not yet removed it and now an enforcement notice has been given for the waste to be removed within six weeks.

Carole Cross, who lives at Thrunton and is on the residents’ group, said: “There just doesn’t seem to be any movement with the waste.

“Now the enforcement notice has been issued we will have to wait another six weeks before it will be taken away.”

The Environment Agency conducted a survey of the waste material to see if it was hazardous, but Mrs Cross said that was not the case.

However, residents still face acrid smoke billowing across their properties as it continues to burn.

Mrs Cross added: “The part that hasn’t been extinguished is still burning and is quite hot.

“There are still flames coming out of it.”

Sir Alan Beith MP raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last week.

He asked: “Can I have the Prime Minister’s support in pressing the Environment Agency and the council to get this material off the site urgently, so that very worried residents can get normal life back?”

In his response, David Cameron indicated he would intervene on behalf of Sir Alan to ensure progress is made, promising to ‘look into the issues he raises’ and assuring him that he ‘understand[s] the concerns’of Sir Alan and local residents.