Stanton fire needs to be investigated

Firefighters tackle the burning pile of wood at Stanton.
Firefighters tackle the burning pile of wood at Stanton.
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A councillor has written to the Government demanding an investigation into the Environment Agency’s handling of the Stanton fire.

The blaze involving about 8,000 tonnes of wood was finally put out a fortnight ago after burning for eight weeks at a recycling firm inside the old ironworks.

Labour’s Cllr Howard Griffiths said he thinks the agency is at fault for not properly monitoring the site and for issuing a licence to Arcwood Recycling, which was evicted by landowner Saint-Gobain a month after the fire started.

In his letter to Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Patterson, Cllr Griffiths wrote: “Initial attempts to extinguish the fire were ill-conceived, involving water run-off going into the Erewash Canal, substantially reducing oxygen levels and killing thousands of fish.

“A rescue operation was belatedly mounted – but not before incalculable damage had been occasioned.

“The financial cost has been tremendous and potential health risks may take years to emerge, but in my view, the whole unsavoury episode could, and should – have been avoided.”

He added that he had hoped for the Environment Agency to undergo a ‘full-scale, transparent inquiry’ into the fire.

“As none has been forthcoming, I urge you to take personal charge, mounting an inquiry into the fire to ascertain if the Environment Agency acted correctly in this matter and bringing those responsible for an environmental catastrophe most strongly to account.”

An Environment Agency spokesman is preparing a comment in response to Cllr Griffiths’s accusations, which you can read in Thursday’s paper.