Posted: Thu 21st Jan 2021

Updated: Thu 21st Jan

Landfill fire investigation outcome branded “a light tap on the wrists” for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

The outcome of an investigation to a fire that took hold at Hafod Quarry Landfill in Johnstown last year has been criticised.

The fire, which involved 1,000 square metres of the landfill, took two days to extinguish and dampen down. Residents in the Johnstown and Ruabon area were urged to keep their windows and doors closed due to the smoke, with similar advice then extended to residents in the town.

As we reported yesterday Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issued landfill site owners Enovert North Ltd (Enovert) with a warning following a fire at their site in Johnstown in May last year.

The investigation found no evidence to suggest that Enovert’s actions caused the fire, say NRW. However, it did identify improvements needed relating to the application of landfill cover materials which led to a non-compliance of the permit.

NRW has issued a warning letter to Enovert notifying them of this breach and has required them to complete a number of corrective actions to secure compliance with the permit.

In response to Natural Resources Wales’s investigation into the fire Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS said: “The NRW investigation found Enovert North Ltd, which runs the landfill site, had not complied with its permit in terms of ensuring there was adequate cover materials to prevent such a fire occurring.

“I’m disappointed that the decision to merely warn the company amounts to a light tap on the wrists. It belittles the seriousness of the fire and its consequences on neighbouring communities.

“The landfill site has had many complaints against it relating to odour and other problems. This fire was another scale – I’m glad there were no injuries or other serious health consequences but it could have been so much worse.

“I would like to see more robust action put in place to tackle this problem to ensure local residents never have to put up with this kind of smoke pollution again.

“In the longer term, a move to reducing our waste should see this kind of landfill site close. The sooner the better as far as Hafod Quarry is concerned.”

Cllr David A Bithell Lead Member Environment and Transport at Wrexham Council met with NRW yesterday morning and said, “I was disappointed only a “warning letter was given as the extent of the fire was significant. NRW confirmed to me that there had been some procedural and a breach of the environmental permit and had sought legal advice before taking this action.”

“The conclusions of the report make recommendations for further work to be carried out to comply with the permit this includes more compliance visits.

He added, “In light of this decision I will be writing to the minister for environment at Welsh Government asking to review the legalisation for tighter controls and enforcement for breaches of environmental permits.”

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