Inspectors close scrap metal yard over 'risk to human health'

Crow Metals in Romford

The Environment Agency has ordered Crow Metals, Romford, to close down until further notice - Credit: Google Streetview / Archant

A scrap metal facility in Romford has been shut down until further notice by the Environment Agency, after experts said it was “likely” to cause “harm to human health”.

The government body served a suspension notice on Crow Metals, in Crow Lane, last week over “serious” noise pollution.

The company’s other site in Dagenham remains open.

The notice, seen by the Recorder, says the Environment Agency received 725 noise complaints about the Romford site between January 2019 and August 2021.

Crow Metals has been ordered to make seven improvements, and its director Joe Wakefield said it is both "working hard to implement them" and about to enter formal discussions with Havering Council over parking issues.

Inspectors recorded five breaches of noise restrictions at the site since October 2018.

According to the suspension notice, the noise was so loud it was “likely to cause serious pollution in the form of offence to human senses, harm to human health and impairment or interference with amenities”.

Most Read

Those listed as likely to be affected included occupants of surrounding properties and users of the nearby Jutsums Recreation Ground.

Complainants told the Environment Agency that the noise was affecting their sleep, reducing their concentration, causing headaches and depression, and preventing people from enjoying their gardens or opening their windows.

In some cases, the notice added, it left neighbours “feeling unable to remain in the residential property during the regulated facility’s operational hours”.

Environment Agency Crow Metals suspension notice

An Environment Agency suspension notice said noise levels at Crow Metals were 'likely' to cause 'harm to human health'. - Credit: Environment Agency

According to Crow Metals’ website, its corporate clients include Ford, Rolls Royce and British Aerospace.

In March, the Recorder revealed the site had generated complaints for years.

In addition to repeated warnings from the Environment Agency, Havering Council said in March that it had served Crow Metals with a noise abatement notice.

Neighbours, some of whom lived in the area long before Crow Metals moved onto the site in 2011, said the noise was “deafening”.

One elderly man said he felt his mental health was being affected. He said he had counted 142 loud crashes in a single day.

Crow Metals in Crow Lane

In 2011, Crow Metals moved to a site at the junction of Crow Lane and Jutsums Lane, metres from existing residential properties. - Credit: Archant

Reports obtained by the Recorder showed Crow Metals had been threatened with enforcement action in February over the noise problem.

But according to last week’s suspension notice, inspectors returned in July – five months after that warning – and found noise levels were still in breach.

In the notice, served last Thursday, September 23, officer Jenny Melvin wrote: “Despite advice and guidance, site meetings and two enforcement notices during 2018 – 2021, the operation of the regulated facility currently presents a risk of serious pollution.”

She continued: “The Environment Agency has decided to suspend the environmental permit... with immediate effect until this notice is withdrawn.”

Crow Metals in Crow Lane

The operations are carried out close to residential properties and a popular park. - Credit: Archant

The company has been ordered to make seven improvements before December 23.

They include installing a noise alert system which will warn the company when levels are getting too high.

Other requirements include installing new acoustic enclosures, putting silencers and noise controls on machinery, and installing a rubber funnel to stop metal crashing to the ground.

"We are so relieved and happy,” one neighbour, who would prefer to remain anonymous, told the Recorder. “We were all texting each other with pictures of glasses of wine the day we found out.”

Environment Agency photo of Crow Metals

An Environment Agency inspector's photograph from inside Crow Metals. - Credit: Environment Agency

Mr Wakefield said: “The decision of the Environment Agency to temporarily close Crow Metals provides the owners with an opportunity to respond and resolve complaints from neighbours relating to noise and dust.

“The Environment Agency has provided a checklist of recommendations and I am pleased to say that we are working hard to implement them.

“Furthermore, we are about to enter formal discussions with Havering Council with potential solutions to ongoing issues with vehicle movements and parking associated with our site.

“These potential solutions have already been tested with the residents of Crow Lane, formed from a recent doorstep survey where we spoke to 60 per cent of households.

“We are a successful family business operating in Crow Lane since 1960, employing dozens of local people.

“We look forward to working with all parties over the coming weeks, months and years ahead.”

For more, read:

Romford scrap yard faces action over 'unacceptable' noise