Fears were today growing that a towering pile of waste overlooking homes will remain in place for months despite a court ruling punishing the company’s director by sending him to jail.
The Environment Agency said there are no plans to use taxpayers’ money to pay for the clean up at Refuse Derived Fuel Ltd, in Brierley Hill. The agency’s environment manager in the Midlands, David Hudson, believes the clean-up will cost between £500,000 and £750,000. But campaigners are demanding a swift resolution to the situation which has blighted their homes for four years.
Firm director Robert McNaughton was jailed for six months when a suspended prison sentence order was activated by the High Court sitting in Birmingham on December 23.
He was found in contempt of court for failing to meet orders to clear the waste on the site, in Moor Street.
RDF Ltd, and Mr McNaughton as the firm director, are still required to clear the site by February 17.
The Environment Agency has been given permission to pursue an order to seize McNaughton’s assets in a bid to push through the clean-up operation.
But while the agency today said they were having talks with the landowners to initiate the process, they admitted that clearing the site ‘is going to take some time’.
In a statement, the Environment Agency, said: “We believe that those that are responsible for the site and the waste should pay for the clearance.
“Accordingly our intention is to press the landowners and Mr McNaughton to do that.
“Sequestration is part of our response as it may allow us to force Mr McNaughton to do the work.
“If the public purse were to be used to pay for clearance of waste we believe that this would encourage others to abandon waste sites in similar fashion.”
Ward Councillor Rachel Harris, who has helped led the campaign calling for the site to be cleared, said: “I’m calling on the Environment Agency to work with the landowners and the council and anyone who is left in RDF to finally move this forward and clear the site.
“Local people have waited and waited for this to happen, it has to happen now.”