Romford scrap yard faces action over 'unacceptable' noise

Crow Metals in Romford has faced repeated Environment Agency inspections

The Environment Agency is considering enforcement action against Crow Metals, according to reports obtained by the Romford Recorder. - Credit: Archant / Google Streetview / Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is considering enforcement action against a Romford scrap yard over noise and pollution.

Reports show “unacceptable” noise was recorded at Crow Metals and metal shards were flying over the walls, into public areas.

The firm states on its website that its corporate clients include Ford, Rolls Royce and BA.

But its yard, at the junction of Crow Lane and Jutsums Lane, has faced years of complaints from nearby residents.

Crow Metals claimed residents' complaints were "inaccurate" but otherwise declined to comment.

Crow Metals in Romford

Crow Metals has a scrap yard at the junction of Crow Lane and Jutsums Lane, Romford. - Credit: Google Streetview


Havering Council has also poured resources into countering traffic problems allegedly linked to the business.

'Living in hell’

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“My wife is fed up and wants to move,” said one retired man. “But we can’t sell the house.”

Crow Metals opened less than 50 metres from their home in 2011. They objected to the planning application, saying it would cause noise and traffic, but Havering Council granted permission.

"It turned out exactly as we said,” he sighed. “We have been living in hell for years.”

Residents complain of unbearable noise and say a cloud of metal dust often hangs over the neighbourhood.

“On a sunny day, you can see it,” said the man. “It’s like little stars in the atmosphere. One day, there was a BT man outside with his shirt over his mouth. He said to me, ‘How do you guys live here and inhale this stuff all day, every day?’

“I’ve only got a few years left to live, but the little ones – I wonder what it’s going to do to them.”

One neighbour said that they had to choose between keeping their windows permanently closed, or dusting three times a day.

Swarf outside Crow Metals

An Environment Agency inspector took this photograph of metal swarf outside Crow Metals in December 2020. - Credit: Environment Agency

Sometimes it’s not just dust, residents said – it is jagged lumps of metal, known as swarf.

“I go to the park with my dog and the metal is everywhere,” said one. “And the noise is deafening, even right over the other side.”

Ajay Singh, of Crow Lane, doesn’t open his windows “even in 35 degrees”.

“We find the metal dust in our front and back gardens,” he said. “We can’t even sleep at night. Because we have the noise all day, it echoes in our ears at night. It is affecting us mentally.”

Ajay Singh from Crow Lane

Ajay Singh, from Crow Lane, said he kept his windows closed even at the height of summer, due to noise and dust. - Credit: Ajay Singh

“It gets to you,” agreed an elderly man, who has lived in the area for decades. “You hear one crash and then you’ve got one ear open, waiting for the next one. The other day, I realised I was counting them. I got up to 142. I thought, bloody hell, it’s getting to me.”

'It sounds like 20 tanks’

The noise doesn’t just come from the yard, residents claimed. It starts at around 6.30am when lorries start queuing outside, with their engines on, waiting for Crow Metals to open.

“It sounds like 20 tanks coming towards your house,” said Ajay.

Two residents said they got up to close their windows when the lorries started arriving, due to the fumes.

“They block our drives,” said one. “One day I had a hospital appointment and there was a skip truck blocking me in. The driver refused to move.”

The lorries also block the road, forcing two-way traffic to share one lane.

Some park on the pavement, which is now crumbling. Pedestrians – including wheelchair users and mothers with prams – are forced into the road, residents said.

A lorry parked near Crow Metals

Residents complained that lorries often parked in the road, waiting to enter Crow Metals, blocking traffic. - Credit: Ajay Singh

The Inspectors

Ten Environment Agency inspections were carried out at Crow Metals between January 2019 and February 2021. All ten identified breaches.

In 2019, inspectors ordered Crow Metals to introduce a Noise and Vibrations Management Plan (NVMP).

Havering Council has also issued a noise abatement notice and even Crow Metals’ own noise survey found “unacceptable” levels.

But as of February 2021, inspectors said the NVMP was still insufficient.

Excerpts from an Environment Agency report on Crow Metals

Excerpts from a February 2021 Environment Agency report on Crow Metals show the agency had asked it to fix its noise and vibrations management plan three times. - Credit: Environment Agency

“We will now consider what enforcement action is appropriate and notify you,” they wrote on February 10.

In December 2020, inspectors found metal swarf piled four metres high in the yard, with “no dust suppression measures”.

After finding swarf scattered around surrounding roads, they again said they were considering enforcement action.

A dust monitor has been set up to detect further breaches.

December 2020 Environment Agency report on Crow Metals

Excerpts from a December 2020 Environment Agency report on Crow Metals say swarf was piled with no dust suppression measures and metal fragments were found outside the facility. Inspectors also noted a noise breach. - Credit: Environment Agency

The Council

Havering Council has planted trees in Crow Lane and put a bollard in Jutsums Lane, in an effort to stop HGVs parking on the pavements – but residents said the lorries just started parking further up the road.

Traffic enforcement officers now patrol the area six or more times per day. More than 100 fines have been issued to vans and HGVs since July.

The council is considering installing more bollards as a “priority”, and putting a pedestrian crossing in Crow Lane later this year.

A lorry parked on the pavement near Crow Metals.

A lorry parked on the pavement near Crow Metals. - Credit: Archant

Viddy Persaud, Havering’s cabinet member for public protection and safety, said the council planned meetings about the issues when Covid-19 rules permitted.