New owners for Westwood site where firefighters fought 25 day blaze last year

Mounds of debris at the Westwood site. Photo: Frank Leppard

Heavy plant machinery has moved on to the Westwood unit hit by a huge 25 day blaze a year ago.

An excavator, dumper truck and platform are on site at the former Hilger Analytical unit which went up in flames on September 15, 2018, when 16,000 bales of illegally stored household waste caught fire.

It is understood the site has been taken on by new owners who plan to redevelop the land.

At the height of the inferno 14 fire engines and 80 firefighters were at the scene. Northdown Primary was closed due to “unsafe carbon monoxide readings,” and there were reports of Thanet children complaining of health problems including chest infections and asthma attacks.

Debris remains at the site

Firefighters remained at the site for three weeks as the two-tonne bales, tightly wrapped in plastic, continued to smoulder.

The site, which was owned by Conservation Property Holdings, registered in the British Virgin Islands, and leased by business rate holder DW Lands, is understood to have been sold.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said its investigation into the illegal waste is still ongoing and in July The Isle of Thanet News revealed the blaze is being probed as part of a national investigation.

The Environment Agency says it cannot reveal when the complex case will be brought to its conclusion.

Ashes and rubble left behind at the Westwood Industrial Estate unit Photo Frank Leppard

A spokesman from the agency said it has been informed the site is now in new hands. They added: “The investigation into the original unauthorised deposit of waste is still ongoing so we can’t comment on any enforcement action yet.”

“We have been informed that a new company has recently acquired the site with a view to redeveloping the land which would include clearing the remaining waste stockpiles.

The Westwood industrial unit blaze Image Simon Moores

“We are however still awaiting confirmation of this. We will work to ensure that any new landowner is aware of its legal obligations and clears the waste properly in line with all relevant waste regulations.”

“All issues related to the site remain the sole responsibility of the registered landowner.”

2 Comments

  1. Environment Agency! How long do they take to act when all the information needed is in public hands already? They were supposedly investigating at least a year before the fire destroyed the factory and caused an environmental headache for most of Thanet residents. Are they actually doing anything at all as it doesn’t seem like it?

  2. oh it has gone up in smoke
    that smoke filled our town for days
    no compensation
    environment agency are useless
    like most governmental departments
    upholding laws is not in their remit
    protecting people and the surrounding area is not either or they would be seriously bothered

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