Residents campaigning for action against frequent fires at a former Rainham landfill could refuse to pay council tax as part of their efforts.

Smoke was seen coming from the Arnolds Field site in Launders Lane once again last week.

On Wednesday (August 23), three London Fire Brigade (LFB) engines attended the site in the early hours and spent two hours dousing fires caused by built-up heat under the waste.

The previous week the LFB attended fires on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday which had sent clouds of smoke into nearby residential areas.

READ MORE: Smoke from Launders Lane, Rainham fire billows over road

One member of local campaign group Rainham Against Pollution has accused Havering Council of making “very little progress whatsoever” at tackling the fires.

They have announced that the group is taking legal advice about protesting by withholding council tax and hopes to organise a demonstration outside the town hall.

In a Facebook post, they said: “They (the council) say all the right things when we meet with them, but nothing ever comes of it.”

Soon after taking over the council in May last year, the Havering Residents Association-Labour administration pledged to install air monitors to study whether the smoke was harmful to human health.

However, the council’s progress with a physical survey of exactly what is on the land appears to have been delayed by a dispute with landowner Jerry O’Donovan over access.

Mr O'Donovan, whose company bought the land for £440,000 in 2017, has accused the council of “blocking” his offers to remediate the land in exchange for planning permission to develop part of it.

Council leader Ray Morgon previously denied this in a letter to the Recorder, saying the owner could do as they please within the law.

Mr O'Donovan has been approached for comment about what efforts he has made to make the land safer.

A spokesperson for Havering Council said: “It is totally understandable that residents are worried and concerned over this long-running issue."

Romford Recorder: A drone image on August 22 shows firefighters tackling a blazeA drone image on August 22 shows firefighters tackling a blaze (Image: Simon Monaghan)

They claimed the current administration "has done more in the past year than previous administrations have over the last two decades" and added that council-employed surveyors will carry out a site investigation alongside the landowners’ surveyors “as soon as possible”.

Reports obtained from the LFB through freedom of information requests show that firefighters consider the land too dangerous to enter on foot due to crevices and the possibility of buried asbestos.

A 2011 survey of the site, commissioned by the Environment Agency, found warm ground during the winter and detected substances that “could pose a risk to human health” such as lead and benzo(a)pyrene.

It estimated that “30,000 to 40,000 cubic metres” of unregulated waste had been dumped there.

But the council has never placed Arnolds Field on its public list of contaminated land in the borough.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The reason the site wasn’t previously added to the contaminated land register is that the 2011 survey did not indicate immediate risk to human health or water courses under its current use, so the land was not prioritised for inspection.

“If subsequent testing changes this, we will act accordingly.”

A spokesperson for LFB said: “The fires are distressing for the local community and are putting firefighters at unnecessary risk.

“The reason the fires are happening regularly is due to the build-up of heat from rubbish dumped at the site over a long period of time. 

“Local communities deserve a long-term solution to the problem and we are part of a working group, alongside the council and the Environment Agency, that seeks to resolve this long-running issue.   

“We will continue to send crews to assess reports of fire and we will respond appropriately so firefighters can ensure any fire does not spread any further.”