After years of protracted negotiations, as well as interventions from the former Prime Minister and Mayor of London, a funding agreement between the Environment Agency and Bromley Council was reached last August to clear the Waste4Fuel site on Cornwall Drive. Since removal work began in November, good progress has been made, with 16,000 tonnes having so far been cleared.
From the start of this case, I have made my thoughts with regard to the Environment Agency’s inability to properly police the site very well known, both publically and to senior Ministers, and I am afraid this has not improved since the recent admission that their officers had grossly underestimated the volume of waste on site. As a result of this mistake, which Bromley Council had warned them off, work on Cornwall Drive has, regrettably, been temporarily suspended until further funds can be found.
This has also not been helped by the discovery of contaminated - but not harmful - waste at the bottom of the rubbish mound, which will have to be disposed of in a more carefully managed way. Again, your local representatives had received assurances from the Environment Agency that this was not the case.
Over the last four months, Jo Johnson, James Brokenshire and myself, alongside local councillors, have been working hard to secure the additional funding required to clear the site in full, holding numerous meetings with Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and escalating the case to the Prime Minister again. I am therefore pleased to have received a commitment from Theresa May last week that Ministers will reconsider the case once Parliament has returned following the General Election.
The site will be secured all the while work has been halted, and from the estimates I have seen, I understand that it will take approximately two months to clear the remainder of the site once work has resumed. I am very conscious of the distress this ongoing problem continues to cause residents in the area, and please be assured that, if re-elected on 8 June, I will maintain pressure on the Government and the Environment Agency to ensure all the waste is removed from the site in a safe and timely manner, and to see that those who illegally dumped it there in the first place are brought to justice.