The ongoing discussions on the Fire Prevention Plan could be nearing a close with outcomes that can only be described as detrimental to the Wood Recycling Industry.
Granted there is no disagreement that waste fires need to be reduced or better handled when they do occur, however measures imposed by the EA must be practical for wood recyclers to continue operating.
Following recent updates from the EA on the FPP guidance the Wood Recycling Association has challenged the EA with a number of concerns as detailed below.
1. Stack sizes being reduced to four metres high is too restrictive, particularly for bigger businesses who will need to acquire additional land to comply. There is no scientific evidence to support this requirement.
2. There is still no scientific evidence to back up the requirement for a four hour burn time despite several requests.
3. A six month storage limit is too restrictive, does not take seasonality into account and has no scientific evidence – the WRA are awaiting the results of the final fire tests which they expect to prove unprocessed wood can be stored safely for longer.
4. The WRA are concerned the bulletin refers to heat detection systems and suppression equipment having to be covered by third party certification schemes but they are not aware of any existing.
5. Such standard rules FPP is too prohibitive for companies who need to apply for bespoke permits for larger operations, such as biomass and large wood recyclers. While the rules may work for small companies, they are too restrictive as a benchmark for bespoke applications.
The WRA has stressed that there is a danger the industry could suffer if the rules are so restrictive and believe that more can be done to manage the risk, ensure early detection and allow for swift action without restricting the workings of a site or putting companies out of business including the installation of water systems, concrete blocks, increased storage space, heat detection systems and fire prevention equipment.