30 July 2014

A fire, which has been burning at a recycling site for nine days, is causing disruption to local businesses and residents.

Approximately 1000 tonnes of general and building waste has been alight at the Averies Recycling site in Swindon since Monday evening (21 July).

Firefighters have been struggling to control the blaze as they were unable to excavate the affected pile of waste due to a lack of space on site. The company has been working with fire crews and has removed hundreds of tonnes of waste to give firefighters room to work.

The fire has produced a significant amount of smoke which has affected the local area.

Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, from the Swindon Borough Council Public Health Team, advised: “Residents in areas affected by the smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and visit the Swindon Borough Council website for further advice and information.

"Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.

“Any smoke can be an irritant and, as such, if people need to be outdoors in the Swindon area, they are advised to avoid areas affected by the smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.”

The fire has also affected local businesses. Treads Tyres, which is located near the recycling site, was forced to close for a week because of the smoke.

Averies Recycling has previously breached Health and Safety regulations.

The Environment Agency, which is in attendance at the incident, issued a statement which says: “Staff have inspected Averies Waste Site on several occasions this year as part of our routine regulation of permitted waste sites. We have raised concerns about fire risks and have visited the site with the fire service. We have taken prosecution action against the site in the last year, with a £73,000 fine issued as a result.

“A number of improvement conditions were placed on the site requiring changes in site infrastructure and management to meet the permit conditions.

“An embankment has built along the edge of the site, this is preventing contaminated fire water entering the River Cole.

“Our officers remain on the site, advising and working with the fire service.”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.