Work set to resume at Stibbington Pure Fuels plant
A bio-fuels plant in Stibbington has been given permission to resume operations following a multi-agency investigation into an explosion that took place at the site last year.
Pure Fuels managing director Tom Lasica said they were given the go ahead on Wednesday evening to resume work.
He said: “The investigation by the fire brigade, Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive, full audits and improvements have been completed.
“We have been given the go ahead by all the agencies to recommence operations at the Stibbington site where we are developing a brand of new renewable fuel which is ultra-low emission and will provide a genuine answer to the pressing need to clean up the air in our cities.”
He said they had also met with “some” of the residents from the area opposed to plant. “We are waiting for them to give us a time when we can all meet together,” he said.
A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: “HSE has issued the company with an Improvement Notice, which we will review for compliance.
"It is for the company to assure itself it has complied with all relevant health and safety legislation before commencing operations."
Meanwhile, North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said he is yet to receive a response to a letter he wrote to Environment Secretary Michael Gove regarding the explosion which took place on November 28 last year.
“I have yet to hear from Michael Gove as regards a meeting with him or one of his Ministerial colleagues and I have therefore chased his office on the matter,” he said.
The Environment Agency said its investigations had “determined the incident had minimal impact on the environment”.
“Since then, we have been in contact with local residents to fully understand and respond to any concerns they might have,” a spokesman said. “We are also working closely with Pure Fuels to ensure they are abiding by the conditions in their permit to operate.”
Although three people were inside the warehouse when the explosion took place, no-one suffered serious injuries.
The process for bio-fuel production currently used at the plant turns used cooking oils into other fuels which can be used to power lorries and cars as well as generate electricity.
Nearby residents, who wished to remain anonymous, have said their lives had been made a “living nightmare” by the plant and want it closed.
Despite their concerns, the Environment Agency issued permits in 2017 for the plant to operate.
“For the past 18 months we have suddenly had, without notice, a 24 hour, seven days a week operating plant immediately next to our homes causing us all stress and sleep deprivation,” said one.
“We are living in fear of what will happen next and I fear for the safety of the residents and the families visiting the steam railway, which is right next door.”
Another added: “It’s no surprise there was an explosion, we have been screaming at the EA and HDC for them to get their house in order. We have been warning them for almost two years it was an accident waiting to happen and we were ignored.
“It’s been and still is a living nightmare wondering when the next incident will be.”
A third said the plant was affecting “our physical and mental health”.
“There have been two fires that we know of and the recent explosion has closed them down. The authorities should do their job and never allow them to reopen.”
- This story contains a quote from the Health and Safety Executive that was not included in our print edition as it arrived to late for publication.