Thanks to the tireless work of Shropshire Fire & Rescue, the Ketley waste fire has been extinguished after 29 days, in which we saw 50,000 tonnes of household waste burning in a residential community.
This comes as a huge relief to residents, whose health and wellbeing has been affected by the smoke. Thank you to all the residents who have responded to the MP survey. The clean-up is only just beginning, but now is the time to ask how this happened, who is responsible, and where do we go from here.
Residents have long been concerned about the hazards of the site and the impact of its irregular management on the community. They vigorously campaigned against the planning consents recently approved by the Council, which allowed increased waste capacity and extended the opening hours, precisely because of their fears about risk to the community and local environment.
The Council has confirmed there was no permit to operate once the former operators Greenway, left the site in 2017. Residents have provided reports of waste coming on to the site up right up until the fire started, which suggests the site was unregulated.
Ketley & Overdale is a residential area surrounded by natural habitats and several schools. The site should have been subject to regulation and enforcement, to ensure the safety of residents, protection of natural habitats and the wider community.
Whilst a former Labour Government approved the site for recycling purposes in 2006, it was then up to our local authorities to ensure site operated legally and safely. A full investigation will take place and those responsible for polluting this community must be properly held to account.
If the taxpayer is to fund the clean-up, then the site must be given to the community. From conversations with residents and feedback from my residents’ survey, residents are determined that this site should be made available as a green space for community use. I fully support this plan and will be campaigning for this outcome. A source of funding to ensure this happens could be the Government’s £4 billion Levelling Up Fund and I am working on plans to submit a request for funding.
I want to see Government getting tough on the perpetrators of illegal waste dumping and on those who fail in their statutory obligations to protect the communities they serve. Quality of life matters in Telford - it’s something we value and something we must work hard to protect.