GROUNDWELL Park and Ride will not now be used to dump tonnes of waste from the Averies fire after the Environment Agency stepped in.
A special meeting of the council’s cabinet and scrutiny committee was cancelled last night after the Environment Agency confirmed it would use its powers to compel Averies to cover the costs to transfer waste to a permitted site, which has not yet been specified, so the fire service can finally work on extinguishing the blaze.
Colin Chiverton, the area environment manager for West Thames, said: “We are taking clear and decisive action, in support of Swindon Borough Council and its partners, to extinguish the fire at the Marshgate site.
“We will be using our Regulation 57 powers under the Environmental Permitting Regulations.
“In doing so we will seek to recover all of the costs incurred in carrying out our powers.
“Wiltshire Fire And Rescue service will need the space to be able to aggressively tackle the fire.
“We will be using our powers to ensure space is provided at the site to give the Fire And Rescue Service room to tackle the fire.”
Coun Brian Mattock, the deputy leader of Swindon Council, said: “The waste will be moved to a permitted site.
“The council will continue to support all agencies involved in this difficult operation so any disruption is kept to an absolute minimum and we achieve the common goal of putting this fire out as quickly as possible.
“When the firefighters start tackling the fire more aggressively, the situation will inevitably seem worse before it gets better.
“But I’m sure residents and local businesses are hugely relieved that there has been a breakthrough and an end is at last in sight.
“We remain grateful for people’s understanding and co-operation as work progresses to bring this matter to a close.”
Stephen Taylor, the chairman of the Strategic Co-ordination Group which is leading the multi-agency plan to deal with the fire, said: “Using their enforcement powers, the Environment Agency has ordered Averies Recycling to remove a total of 3,000 tonnes of waste from their Marshgate site in Swindon.
“Averies will need to begin to remove the waste tomorrow.
“The Environment Agency will continue to work as part of a multi-agency response to this incident, with Swindon Council and other partners, to make ARSL take action and remove the waste.
“As the operators of the site, ARSL has the responsibility to remove and pay for the waste to be removed from the site to allow Wiltshire Fire And Rescue Services sufficient space for the fire to be fully extinguished.”
Coun Paul Baker, (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton): “Groundwell should never have been on the table, and I think that this was a cheap option.
“This has been made possible by a show in the community not only from Penhill but from Marshgate as well. This is the best scenario for everybody.”
Mark Dempsey, Labour Parliamentary candidate, said: “This decision could have been made earlier. The Environment Agency should have used their powers at the outset when we were clear that Groundwell was not an appropriate site.”
Carole O’Sullivan, 47, of Penhill, said: “This was never about not having it in our back yard, it is about the principle of the council dumping the waste here and helping out a private company.
“People have all suffered through this and Averies need to be made to compensate for all of the aggravation that has been caused.”