50 firefighters dealing with ‘large-scale incident’ after fire breaks out at recycling plant

More than 50 firefighters and a dozen fire engines were called out to tackle a major fire at New Earth Solutions’s Gloucestershire recycling facility last Friday.

Photo: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Photo: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) and Avon Fire and Rescue were called out to fight the blaze at the waste recycling facility at Sharpness Docks in Sharpness, Berkeley shortly before 6am on Friday.

Firefighters, supported by South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (HART Team) and Gloucestershire Constabulary attended the fire, with the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water also on the scene.

No one was working on the site at the time the fire broke out and the HART Team confirmed that no injuries had been treated by paramedics.

The Sharpness in-vessel composting (IVC) facility is one of five recycling sites operated by New Earth Solutions, which has recently been taken over by Irish waste management company PandaGreen after a turbulent year of administration and company sales. All five sites treat waste collected from local authority and commercial clients.

Photo: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

Photo: Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service

The fire was under control by the afternoon, and the fire service had left by 5pm, with two engines remaining at the site with a watching brief. Investigations into the fire have now begun, but police are currently treating it as ‘not suspicious’.

Photos released by GFRS over the weekend however show that the site suffered extensive damage from the fire.

Investigation will be carried out

Commenting on the fire on Friday, New Earth Solutions’s Managing Director Peter Mills told the South Gloucestershire Gazette: “At this stage we have no idea what may have caused the fire but we will work with the fire and rescue service to establish what happened. We have a number of local contacts in the community and we will be keeping them up-to-date with what is happening over the weekend.”

The incident compounds a turbulent year for New Earth Solutions. In June, the company entered administration after takeover talks with an unnamed European developer of large combined heat and power (CHP) plants fell through. As a result of entering administration, and following the company’s sale in July to Leeds-based DM Opco for £5.9 million, the company’s administrators Duff & Phelps reported that £9,169,521 was owed by New Earth Solutions, with no hope of getting that money back.

All five of the New Earth sites were then acquired in October by PandaGreen Ltd, Ireland’s largest waste management company, as it sought to make moves into the UK market.

The company decided to continue trading under the name New Earth Solutions and had promised to invest in all its facilities across the UK, but that commitment has now been complicated by last week’s fire.