Rising cost of fire-hit Huntingdon recycling centre revealed
12:00 27 April 2011
IN the same week firefighters were called to another blaze at a Huntingdonshire recycling centre, it has emerged a previous incident cost taxpayers £550,000.
Monday’s fire at Huntingdon Recycling Centre Ltd, in Thrapston Road, Ellington, took 40 firefighters more than 12 hours to tackle.
The fire, which started at 6.15pm when a 2,500-tonne pile of compost caught alight, is the third in less than six months at the site.
Firefighters used diggers to break up the pile and to create fire breaks to stop the blaze spreading, but 100 tonnes of material was destroyed.
One lane of the A14 was closed overnight to allow fire engines easy access. The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental.
A blaze in February took five days to put out and involved more than 80 firefighters. Officials revealed this week the incident cost Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue £550,000 in man-hours and equipment.
Calls have been renewed for better management and tighter security at the centre, which processes compost and waste wood.
Brampton Parish Councillor Mike Shellens said: “The difficulty they are struggling with is clearly security and site management. A large pile of 2,500 tonnes does not make sense.
“If it was site management, then clearly this cannot continue.”
The centre’s head of project management, Dave Halfpenny, insisted staff were following environmental regulations on the size of stockpiles.
He said changes had been made to the site in the last six months to improve safety, and staff were working with the fire service to install another hydrant.
Mr Halfpenny said: “The area of the site that has been affected is just 15metres by 15metres.
“We work closely with the fire brigade and Environment Agency to reduce risk of a fire at the site. There has been a great deal of space created on site.”
Staff from the centre will be attending a Brampton Parish Council meeting in July, and open evenings for people to visit the centre are planned.
Dave Richardson, the fire service’s district manager for Huntingdonshire, said: “We have been working closely with the site owners to reduce the risk of fires starting and make it easier to tackle any fires that do occur.
“Some of the steps we have already made helped firefighters to tackle the latest fire.”