Sunderland recycling firm hit with legal action over waste mountain

Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!
Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!
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A RECYCLING firm in Sunderland has been hit with legal action to reduce the huge mountain of waste at its site.

Alex Smiles, based in Deptford, has been told to scale down the amount of material at its riverside base by Environment Agency chiefs.

Alex Smiles - view of main entrance.

Alex Smiles - view of main entrance.

The waste management, recycling and skip hire business employs more than 80 people and operates 40-plus heavy goods vehicles, but a mountain of rubbish is now piling up at its base.

The Environment Agency has confirmed that bosses at Smiles were recently served with legal notices meaning they cannot accept new waste onto the site until they reduce the backlog of scrap, with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service also confirmed it is monitoring the ongoing situation at the premises to reduce the threat of fire breaking out.

The firm was set up 42 years ago by Wearside entrepreneur Alex Smiles, who died in December 2012, aged 70.

The Echo contacted Alex Smiles but was told by bosses that they will be making “no comment” at this time.

Since the end of February we have served the company with three legal notices which means they cannot now accept any more waste onto the site and must reduce levels of certain types of waste back to the amounts set out in their environmental permit.

Environment Agency manager Julian Carrington

Environment Agency manager Julian Carrington said: “We have been working closely with the company over the last few months to deal with a number of issues on the site at Deptford Terrace in Sunderland.

“Since the end of February we have served the company with three legal notices which means they cannot now accept any more waste onto the site and must reduce levels of certain types of waste back to the amounts set out in their environmental permit.

“Although the site is not allowed to accept any more waste, it can deal with the waste already there, including a requirement to reorganise it to reduce the potential risk of fire.

“We will be monitoring this situation closely and considering further action should we need to, working with other organisations to ensure the waste site is managed correctly.”

Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!

Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!

The firm, which was set up in 1973 by Alex with the support of his late wife Jane, remained based in Wellington Lane until the turn of the century, moving to its current site at Deptford, close to crane manufacturer Liebherr, in 2002.

Over the last three decades the company has grown to employ over 80 people, operating on a nine-acre site and has built a fleet of 40 trucks including skip wagons, wheeled tippers and artic units.

The base launched with a £1million dedicated material recycling facility.

In addition to its business operations, the firm has given its backing to a number of community projects on Wearside.

Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!

Alex Smiles - Deptford'GV of main entrance and pictures of waste on site as seen from the riverside footpath. This cannot be seen from the entrance and public road!

Station manager Mark Witherspoon, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are aware of the issue and have been working closely with the Environment Agency.

“Waste recycling plants can contain additional fire risks so it is important that the risk from fire and to the environment are reduced as much as possible.”