UK Wood Recycling Ltd, part of the Hadfield Group of companies, has received the UK’s first Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) allowing stack sizes of up to eight metres high.
The Middlesbrough-based company has been working with the Environment Agency for the past three years to achieve the non-standard FPP, the first of its kind which allows stacks of waste wood to be stored at up to eight metres high assuming a number of other specific additional measures are in place on the site. The increased stack heights will enable the business to manage the peaks in the seasonality of waste wood.
Geoff Hadfield, Group MD for UK Wood Recycling (UKWR) and Hadfield Wood Recyclers, said the years of hard work the company had put into achieving this goal had been worth the effort and the wait.
“When the new guidance was first introduced in 2015 we immediately flagged that it was too restrictive for a business of our scale. However, through collaboration at a local and national level and significant investment in additional science and infrastructure, both sides have learned and gained a greater understanding of the real issues involved in ensuring the minimal impact of any incident, whilst allowing a business to continue to trade,” said Geoff.
“It is with tremendous pride that we now have a non-standard FPP in place on this site and one which allows us to carry out the work we do and honour the large-scale contracts we have with our customers. The issue for us was always about finding a way that we could store enough material to deliver the scale of the contracts we have with customers, whilst reassuring the Environment Agency that we were not posing an undue fire or environmental risk.
“This is recognition that anything can be achieved if you work hard enough and are willing to work with your regulators and they are open to understanding the issues you face as a bonafide operator acting in a professional manner,” added Geoff.
Peter Buckley, Senior Adviser at the Environment Agency (Fire Prevention Plans), said: “We have been working hard with UKWR over the last few years to approve a suitable FPP for the Middlesbrough site.
“It is pleasing that UKWR have fully engaged with the EA throughout this process and have provided robust evidence to support their FPP application. The EA have entered into open and honest dialogue with UKWR, and all concerns raised have been fully addressed by UKWR. The alternative measures proposed in the FPP application have been thoroughly tested and are deemed to meet the three core objectives set out in the FPP guidance. As can be seen in this case, it is important for site operators to fully engage with the EA to ensure that satisfactory outcomes are achieved for both parties.”
UKWR was established in 2007 and had a ten year contract to supply 80,000 tonnes a year of biomass fuel to the Wilton 10 boiler, which is owned by energy company Sembcorp Utilities (UK) Ltd. The company is delighted to have just signed another contract with Sembcorp to continue supplying the fuel until 2027. UKWR Ltd sources waste wood locally and nationally, on short and long-term contracts, before manufacturing it to the high-specification fuel required.
The UKWR plant was built to have a capacity of up to 200,000 tonnes of wood per year and currently manufactures panel board and animal bedding feedstock as well as the high quality biomass fuel, which is classed as some of the best biomass fuel in Europe as a result of the cleaning process it goes through.
Over the past three years UKWR has doubled the size of the site by taking out a long-term lease on another 10 acres of adjacent land, bringing the total to 21 acres.
Because UKWR is on a purpose-built facility within the Wilton International site it has many advantages, including the fact it is easily accessible by the Falck Fire Service who are based on the Wilton site and Cleveland Fire Service both of whom have fire-fighting equipment and capabilities to deal with large industrial fires.
In addition to its own bespoke drainage system and interceptors, the site also benefits from the availability of an almost unlimited high pressure water supply. The UKWR site also has a 2.2 acre building for finished product storage, which is one of the largest in the country.
In total the company has invested £1.5 million on improvements in fire detection and suppression systems and infrastructure, to make both the original and new site world-class in terms of health and safety. These include installing more outside hydrants and remote controlled water cannons in the storage building, a fully concreted impervious surface and 24/7 security.
UKWR has also installed a fixed thermal imaging heat and fire detection camera system which monitors the site and stacks of wood for hot spots every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company also uses temperature probes and a hand-held thermal imagining camera for additional spot checks of its stacks, which are taken during the day and night.
All of this investment has contributed to the Hadfield Group receiving three consecutive RoSPA Gold Health and Safety Awards and shows its on-going commitment to raising standards in the industry.
Note: UKWR is part of the Hadfield Group of companies, including Hadfield Wood Recyclers which has sites in Manchester and on the docks at Tilbury Port in Essex.
Geoff Hadfield is Managing Director of both UKWR and Hadfield Wood Recyclers and plays a key role in the UK’s waste wood recycling market. As such he is a co-founder, former Chairman and current Board member of the sector’s trade body, the Wood Recyclers’ Association.