Work to transform an abandoned waste site into use as a key manufacturing site has taken a major step forward with its clearance now complete.

More than 27,000 tonnes of waste have been removed from the former Alex Smiles site in Deptford since work began earlier this year.

The site has been closed since private waste operator Alex Smiles went into administration in 2015.

It was also the scene of a major fire in May 2018 which took more than three weeks to extinguish.

Sunderland City Council, which bought the land in December, plans to lease it to leading crane manufacturer Liebherr whose business is next door.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see this work complete, given the blight this site has been on our city for a number of years.

“Its clearance and transformation into a major employment site has long been a goal for both the City Council and the Environment Agency. It’s remarkable to see how much has been achieved following our acquisition of the site in December.

“You only have to look at the before and after pictures and drone footage to see the scale of the task ahead when we first took over the site and the spectacular progress that’s been made in a relatively short space of time.

“This not only helps safeguard jobs at one of our major manufacturing firms but paves the way for its future expansion onto the site.”

Andrew Turner, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “It was great to see the finished results from the waste clearance project of the former Alex Smiles site. This thorough partnership programme will immensely benefit residents, the local environment and the business community.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point working closely with Sunderland City Council to ensure the waste was cleared in a way that reduced further risk to the environment.

“The majority of the site was cleared before mid-March, and since then waste crews have completed the work following the current social distancing guidelines ensuring the safety of the workers, their families and the wider public.

“This joint effort will help the site prepare for the next chapter of its life, and it was made possible with support from the Treasury, who are refunding the landfill tax element of the clear up costs – representing the Government’s commitment to supporting economic development in the North of England.”

Liebherr, which is looking to expand its Sunderland base, currently employs 200 people in highly skilled jobs producing Reachstackers and Harbour Mobile Cranes. The company has also part funded the clearance of the site.

Ralph Saezler, managing director of Liebherr Sunderland Works, said: “We are absolutely delighted to see the site cleared of the waste.

“On the one hand, thanks to the close and highly valued cooperation of Sunderland City Council and Environment Agency, offering the long awaited opportunity for us to finally take over the site with the business potentials attached to that – safeguarding the jobs of our highly skilled work force.

“And on the other hand, to see a serious Health and Safety risk taken away for the benefit of the wider community.”

The site clearance has been carried out by Acumen Waste.

Andy Crossley, managing director of Acumen Waste, added: “Acumen are pleased to have played our part in the regeneration of this derelict site.

“To deliver this significant, logistically complex project safely and in such a short space of time is credit to our site team and supply-chain, who worked tirelessly to meet the expectations of Sunderland City Council, the Environment Agency and Liebherr.”

 

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