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Westwood fire: Industrial unit filled with 6,000 bales of 'illegal waste'

By Katie Davis

An empty industrial building which has been alight for more than three days contains 6,000 bales of 'illegally stored waste'.

According to the Environment Agency, the former Cummins unit on the Westwood estate near Margate does not have a waste storage licence and a notice to remove contents issued last year was ignored.

Smoke continues to billow from the building after fire crews were called to the scene on Saturday at about 6am.

The huge plume of smoke can be seen from miles away. Picture: David Gravener
The huge plume of smoke can be seen from miles away. Picture: David Gravener

Officers from Thanet District Council reviewed the site last May and the Environment Agency began an investigation, which is still ongoing.

It was previously occupied by Cummins Power Generation, which is thought to have vacated the site in 2014.

The Environment Agency would not confirm who the site operator is.

An overhead view of the fire Picture: KFRS (4221234)
An overhead view of the fire Picture: KFRS (4221234)

An agency spokesman said: "The waste is illegal. We know there are about 6,000 bales of waste and that is a mixture of all sorts.

"We served a notice last year to the operator for the waste to be removed but this was ignored.

"There has been an investigation and this is ongoing. We will continue to investigate and keep our legal options under review.

Crews at the scene. Picture: Sean Axtell
Crews at the scene. Picture: Sean Axtell

"We are working with the fire service and Thanet council and will continue to gather evidence of what we believe to be an illegal waste site."

At its height, 80 firefighters were tackling the blaze and huge plumes of smoke could be seen as far away as Sandwich.

The cause of the fire is not yet known and crews are expected to be on the scene for several more days.

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