Plague of flies closes Barrow waste treatment plant

MBT waste treatment facility in Barrow The Sowerby Woods plant opened in March

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A high-tech council-owned waste treatment plant in Cumbria has been forced to shut down after neighbouring businesses reported a plague of flies.

The mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant in Barrow opened in March as part of a £400m deal to end Cumbria County Council's reliance on landfill.

But Environment Agency inspectors ordered the plant to close its doors and be disinfected after complaints.

The council said it was expected to be a short-term problem.

The facility, on the Sowerby Woods Industrial Estate, is run on behalf of the local authority by Shanks Waste Management as part of a 25-year deal to effectively remove the council's need to use landfill sites.

Shanks will now to stop accepting any further waste until the plant has been cleared and treated.

The MBT process sorts out recyclables and allows waste to be shredded, dried and transformed into a solid fuel, which can be burned to generate energy.

'Necessary steps'

An identical MBT plant in Carlisle is operating normally.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman added: "It is essential that any problems are nipped in the bud in the early days of the plant's operations so that it doesn't have a negative impact on surrounding businesses in the longer term.

"Therefore it is fully expected the concerns raised about the Barrow facility will be a short-term issue, which can be addressed.

"Both the Environment Agency as the regulator and the county council as the client will be seeking assurances that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that this situation does not arise again in future."

While the Barrow plant is closed, domestic waste will be sent to existing landfill sites.

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