Rugeley farm fire: Owner faces court action after blaze which has burned for two months

Court action is to be taken against the owner of farmland where a fire has been burning for two months in Rugeley.

Firefighters tackling the blaze

Firefighters tackling the blaze

All agencies involved in investigating the Slitting Mill blaze have applied to the High Court for an injunction against the farmer in respect of planning breaches. The case was due to be heard today.

If successful, the land owner will be forced to comply with planning regulations.

According to the agencies involved, the owner of the land was told in October 2015 that he was breaching planning control regulations by importing and shredding wood and was told to submit a planning application.

This was submitted in February 2016 when it was deemed to be invalid by planning bosses. A new application was never submitted.

On September 5 the huge fire broke out at Oak Tree Farm. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze for days but despite trying out a variety of options were unable to extinguish it.

More recently the fire has been capped by soil, meaning it is still burning but no longer billowing smoke into the air.

It is unknown how the blaze started but around 1,000 tonnes of waste, made up mainly of wood waste, were alight.

The fire prompted a multi-agency response with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cannock Chase District Council, the Environment Agency, Staffordshire County Council, Public Health England and South Staffordshire Water all involved.

Firefighters on the scene in Slitting Mill Road where woodchips continue to burn. Photo: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters on the scene in Slitting Mill Road where woodchips continue to burn. Photo: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

The six agencies have now penned a document to residents in Rugeley stating that the owner of this land was banned from burning rubbish on the site and had previously been prosecuted for ‘small scale illegal deposit and treatment of waste by burning’.

In September 2015 the site was registered a waste exemption, allowing low risk, low level waste activity to take place without the need for an environmental permit.

But according to the Environment Agency they revoked this in June this year as the site was not complying with the exemption because of the amount of wood it was storing.”