An operation to reduce the pile of rubbish in the Waste4Fuel site in St Paul's Cray has begun.

Environment Agency (EA) contractors entered the Cornwall Drive recycling plant on Tuesday (August 5), and levels of waste will start to be reduced to safe levels today (August 8).

While the EA's battle to ensure the site operator and landowner clean up the site continues, it says it is taking this step to reduce the blight on the local community.

Despite this, residents living around Waste4Fuel remain sceptical about the future.

Patricia Smith, 69, of Bostall Road, said: "I don't feel this is the answer to all our prayers. I'll only be convinced when the site is clear. 

"It seems like the fire brigade is permanently at the site these days. We have to live with the flies and the stench every day.

"I had to buy two fly swatters and a fly screen last week - I've lived here many years and I've never had to do that."

Rob Wise, environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: "We understand the frustration of local residents and we will continue our fight against Waste4Fuel.

"It is not right that taxpayers should pick up the bill for this operation when it remains the responsibility of the site operator and landowners, but the priority is to make the site as safe as possible. 

"We are committed to working with our partners to find a long-term solution.”

The problems at Waste4Fuel have got progressively worse over the last two and a half years, with frequent fires releasing fumes that have become a serious health concern for local residents.

Despite this, the pile of waste in the site has continued to grow, leading to the suggestion the area around it has become the worst place to live in Britain.