Launders Lane: Updated statement from the Leader

Published: Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said:

“Following a recent interview with ITV London News – I would like to update residents directly on our progress to resolve the long-running issue of fires at Launders Lane, Rainham.

“Firstly, I would like to reassure residents the Council is continuing to do all we can to find a solution to this problem. 

“We have now set up a working group which is meeting regularly. The group includes Jon Cruddas MP, councillors, Council officers, the Environment Agency and the London Fire Brigade.

“Meanwhile, a number of key things are taking place to help us better understand what type of waste has been historically dumped at the Arnolds Field site and more pressingly the extent to which the fires contribute to poor air quality – and whether these might be harmful to health as well as a significant public nuisance.

“We have commissioned the Environmental Research Group (ERG) – part of Imperial College London – experts in this field - to install additional air quality monitors to measure levels of particulate matter in the air.

"In total, we will have five monitors forming a ring around the site. Initial data from the three existing monitors show pollution levels (in the absence of any fires) to be ‘low’, or 1-2 on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is low and 10 high. 

“We understand that research from University College London (UCL) shown by ITV presented some worrying findings. We have asked to see the full findings to help us with our longer-term monitoring.

"While I understand residents watching this news report are rightly concerned – it is worth remembering that this research was done over a very short period of time (nine days).

"We are keen to monitor this site for a much longer period to take in the full year, including the summer months, to get a full and accurate picture of exactly what is happening. 

“We have also appointed a second contractor to look at the emissions in more detail which will allow us to understand the precise levels of specific pollutants that might be generated by the fires.

“The Council understands the concern of residents and is committed to doing a thorough assessment of any risks to health.

"If there is found to be a serious risk to public health – we will use our enforcement powers to force the owners of this private land to take action.

"If necessary – we will also be calling on the Government and Mayor of London to step in. 

“We appreciate this has been an ongoing issue for a number of years and one which was sadly overlooked by the previous administration. However, I have made a promise to treat this as a key priority.

"And while it is not going to be quick or easy to address we will do all we can to try and get a solution.”