Arnolds Field: Illegal dump owners say clean-up plan blocked
Owners of an illegal dump that burns fires affecting nearby residents in east London says a council is "blocking" efforts to clean it up.
Fires at Arnolds Field, Rainham, have led to fears among locals they are being exposed to harmful gases.
Landowner DMC Essex says it has been negotiating the land's development since buying it in 2017.
Havering Council says it cannot progress plans because there are "terms and conditions" on entering the land.
At a council meeting attended by hundreds of concerned residents last week, cabinet member for development and regeneration Graham Williamson said detailed landfill surveys had not yet been carried out because of the terms set out by the landowner in a letter on 7th March.
The site is filled with about 40,000 cubic metres of unregulated waste sitting the equivalent of two stories high.
A planning agent for DMC Essex businessmen Jeremiah O'Donovan and Finbarr McMachon told the meeting they were offering to process the landfill materials on site and remove "dangerous wastes" such as gas cylinders before covering it with a "restoration layer" of soil.
In exchange, they are asking for planning permission to use 20-25% of the site, which is on protected green belt land, for storing industrial machinery.
'Living on throat lozenges'
The agent told the meeting: "Everything we ask for is just getting batted back, we're just getting nowhere with it and [Havering Council] are asking for stuff we don't know at this stage, so they're blocking us.
"We're just trying to find a solution that works for everybody but are just getting nowhere with it."
Rainham Against Pollution steering group member Mark Wheatley called on Havering Council to urgently "get around the table" with the landowner.
He said: "The news is saying it's going to be the hottest summer, people are actually scared for their lives, I live the furthest away from the site and I'm living on throat lozenges."
In response to growing alarm about the health impacts of the fires, Havering Council launched a year-long air quality study last summer but is yet to enter the site to analyse what materials are burning.
The businessmen also said relocating from their company's current base at a "small yard" on green belt land nearby at Greenacres Trading Estate, Aveley Road, in Upminster, would provide "further public benefit".
Follow BBC London on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org