Firm operating wood recycling centre could lose licence after 12-week blaze

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The operators of a recycling centre where a fire raged for three months is set to be stripped of its operating licences.

Environment Agency chiefs have served notices on Wood Recycling Services Ltd to revoke permits that allow composting and the chipping of wood waste.

The firm, based in Appspond Lane, Potters Crouch, has until March 22 to appeal against the action.

After this time the company must remove all wood and composting waste from the site, which will mean the firm will be unable to operate.

The blaze, which started on November 10 and could be seen from the M1, was sparked by spontaneous combustion within a massive pile of wood waste.

In the initial stages of the fire police were forced to close surrounding roads when smoke made driving conditions dangerous and nearby householders were left with intermittent water supply as fire crews battled the flames.

As the blaze was brought under control, firefighters visited the site once a day to check that the operators were able to keep it under control, until it finally burned out on February 8.

A statement released by the Environment Agency said: “We have been concerned about the excessive volumes of waste on site, and the associated environmental risk, since winter 2011.”

In May and July 2012, enforcement notices were issued that ordered the firm to reduce the amount of wood waste on its site to less than 10,000 tonnes and to ensure the waste was being stored correctly. Then in September 2012, suspension notices were issued in order to manage the risk of heat, fire and serious pollution. This meant that the firm could not accept any more compost or wood waste.