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Councillors vote to investigate closing Swindon fire-hit recycling site

  • 9-23-2014

Councillors have voted unanimously to pursue "all legal avenues" to close a Swindon recycling centre, following a two month fire at the site.

The blaze began at Averies Recycling on 21 July and was put out on Monday. About 3,000 tonnes of waste had to be removed to give firefighters access.

A scrutiny committee will also review the "independent, multi-agency debrief" by the Local Resilience Forum.

Swindon Borough Council said it was important to "look at what went on".

The motion to look into the closure of the Averies site was put forward by Conservative councillors at the Tory-led authority.

A second motion for a full inquiry into Averies, the council and the Environment Agency and "hold them to account", put forward by Labour's Mark Dempsey, was withdrawn at the meeting on Thursday.

David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: "The Environment Agency licences these premises and they're the ones responsible for monitoring them, but it's too early to say who did what or didn't do what.

"We need to let the Local Resilience Forum do their review and then we can look at the report and see what we make of it."

Mr Renard said the closure of the site was the "statutory responsibility of the Environment Agency".

"Whatever comes out of the review we want to make sure, as far as we're able, to avoid it happening again," he said.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency (EA) said it was investigating whether any offences had been committed.

An enforcement notice served remains in place because the infrastructure on site (the drainage and impermeable surfacing) "is not compliant with the permit conditions", it said.

"The notice prohibits the acceptance and treatment of waste until the infrastructure is brought up to standard. 

"We have also served notices under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 to prevent pollution and ensure compliance with the permit," it added.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2014 BBC

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