UK Waste Solutions Ltd has also expressed fears that the government’s drive to cut red tape from waste legislation could open “a can of worms”, making it easier for criminals to evade the law.
Garry Johnson and Chris Giscombe, directors of UKWSL, invited letsrecycle.com to the Ardwick industrial site to witness the extent of the waste pile – located just one mile from Manchester city centre.
Based in Newark, UKWSL operates as an independent recycling and recovery service for businesses, employing a “stringent vetting procedure” to ensure waste is handled correctly and taken to appropriate disposal outlets.
The firm has been contracted to oversee removal of the waste, comprising mainly construction and demolition materials, which has been dumped on land adjacent to a train maintenance depot.
Mr Giscombe said: “This was a licenced facility mainly for commercial skip waste and previous landowners allowed companies to come and tip on this facility. They’ve built up the materials, taken the monies and revenues for having the skips on site, and then decided to do a runner.”
“When we get involved it’s a situation where potentially a site hasn’t been policed enough so large volumes of materials have built up on the site,” he added. “So we have to make a firm assessment of the types of material on site, we test the material and for every 5,000 tonnes of material that’s on site we have to make sure we have a compliant home.”
Around two thirds of the waste pile has now been removed in an operation that is expected to take seven months. Removal of the waste began in September 2015, with operators initially having to create cells in case of fire.
Contractors operate five days a week to take away materials. So far around 2,500 lorry loads have been received each equating to an estimated 25 tonnes of material. The company has said that a minimum of 60% of the material will be diverted from landfill.
Asked how similar incidents could be prevented in future, Mr Johnson said UKWSL wants to see councils, government and landowners working together to stop the problem at source.
He said: “We cleared a site last year which was about £1 million in spend, those criminals were caught but only fined about £21,000. We think people who are serious criminals should be investigated, they shouldn’t be able to hold these permits and licences, and the government really should do a little bit more to stop this sort of thing happening in the first place.”
Mr Johnson added: “UKWSL have real concerns in terms of cutting red tape, which could open a can of worms allowing operators to get away with things they shouldn’t get away with. We believe in stringent processes and monitoring to ensure something like this never happens again.”