Fire Minister meets residents affected by Slitting Mill Fire

Brandon Lewis, Minister for Policing and the Fire Services, joined Cannock Chase’s Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Amanda Milling on a visit to Slitting Mill, Rugeley to meet with residents who have been affected by the illegal waste fire at Oak Tree Farm.

The Slitting Mill fire saw over 1,000 of illegal waste burn causing major distress to local residents who had to suffer weeks of large volumes of smoke being emitted from the fire. The volume of waste was so large that it took Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service almost three weeks to contain the fire, which then had to be capped with soil following the discovery of asbestos.

The Fire Minister joined Amanda Milling to hear first-hand the experiences of local residents who have had their lives blighted for many weeks by the smoke coming from the fire.

Amanda Milling said: “Since the fire first started last Autumn I have raised the issue of illegal waste fires several times in Parliament and directly with the Fire Minister, Brandon Lewis. I was therefore delighted that he joined me on a visit to Slitting Mill where residents could tell him all about their own personal experiences.”

Amanda Milling has been calling on the government to review the laws to tackle illegal waste dumping and the financial penalties faced by operators.

She added: “The fire should never have happened in the first place. It was a horrendous experience for local residents and Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service have had to spend significant sums of money fighting, containing and capping the fire as well as continuing to monitor and manage the stack. The whole incident begs several questions, including whether or not existing laws are being robustly used by the various enforcement agencies and whether or not existing laws are sufficient. It is now vital that the Home Office and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs review the law to prevent incidents such as these happening. I was therefore very pleased that the Fire Minister was able to hear the opinions of local residents as well as have the opportunity to discuss the issue in more detail.”

Amanda has committed that if re-elected as the MP for Cannock Chase on the 8 June she will continue to work tirelessly in Parliament to see the laws strengthened to prevent the illegal dumping of waste.