Connect Plus: A40 Fly-tipping Clearance
Approximately 600 tonnes of waste had been dumped beneath the A40 in Uxbridge
Reconomy project-managed an 11-day process to clear all materials from the site
153 grab wagon loads needed to restore the site to its orginal state
In February 2017, residents of Uxbridge in West London first reported a buildup of fly-tipped waste underneath the A40, near to Colne Valley Regional Park and the Grand Union Canal. In the weeks that followed, the volume of materials dumped at the site rapidly escalated and by May 2017 it was estimated to exceed 600 tonnes. The vast pile of waste entirely filled what had become known locally as the ‘Uxbridge Galleries’ – an area taken over by graffiti artists who covered the pillars and walls of the flyover with their designs. Roughly the size of a football pitch, and well over a metre deep in places, the waste posed a serious environmental hazard, particularly being in such close proximity to a water source. The assortment of fly-tipped materials included white goods, sofas, baths, burnt-out cars, timber, rubble and industrial waste.
In the spotlight
Due to the sheer number of fly-tipping offences that had taken place, the site was attracting considerable national media coverage. Because of this unwanted press attention, it became even more critical that the waste was dealt with quickly and efficiently. After some initial confusion about who would take responsibility for the waste, Highways England confirmed that it was on their land and committed to removing the giant eyesore. The job was therefore passed to Connect Plus, which holds the maintenance contract for the M40 on behalf of Highways England. As an existing waste partner of Connect Plus, the services offered by Reconomy were already well known to the company. A phone call to Reconomy was all it took to begin putting plans in place to remove the waste, while ensuring that the minimum amount possible ended up at a landfill site.
Survey and removal
Reconomy immediately set about liaising with its supply chain to identify suppliers best placed to dispose of the waste within the required timescales. A site visit was also swiftly planned so that a full survey could be carried out to identify the types of materials in need of removal. During this process, approximately two tonnes of asbestos was discovered at the site, which needed specialist equipment to dispose of correctly. Once the asbestos had been safely removed, a labour team was mobilised to begin the process of stockpiling the rest of the waste using an excavator.
It was then loaded into grab wagons and taken to a nearby recycling facility for processing. 153 grab wagon trips were required to restore the site to its original state. Once at the recycling facility, each grab wagon load was meticulously sorted to segregate the various collected materials. Over 75% of the waste consisted of wood, metal, hardcore or soils, meaning it could be easily recycled. The remainder of the general waste was shredded for use as EFW (energy from waste). Tyres, fridges and other ‘awkward’ waste streams were transported to specialist recycling outlets to avoid sending them to landfill.
Of the 600 tonnes of waste collected during the 11-day job, only the asbestos was sent to landfill – less than 1% of the total. Furthermore, all work was completed to Connect Plus and Highway England’s satisfaction within the agreed timescales. Prior to its disposal, the waste was examined by Buckinghamshire County Council’s fly-tipping officers. They have since launched 30 active investigations aimed at identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the industrial-scale fly-tipping. Concrete blocks have also been installed at the site to restrict vehicle access and minimise the risk of any repeat incidents.
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