THE closure order on a controversial scrapyard accused of illegally burning waste has been lifted pending an appeal.

Last month police led an operation to shut the operation at the TH Smith and Sons site in Great Harwood.

They removed remove an air burner and put up fencing in line with a closure order granted at Blackburn Magistrates Court.

But Judge Simon Newell sitting at Preston Crown Court froze the closure order and said the yard could be re-opened pending a full hearing of the appeal next month.

Police have now removed all the fences they had put up and returned the air burner to the Meadow Street site now operated by GHM Metals Recycling Ltd.

Owner Tommy Smith, 40, has vowed not to burn any rubbish on the site in the next month.

He has promised to contest the appeal and claims he had been 'unfairly treated'.

His wife, and partner in the company, Mary has also lodged an appeal against her conviction and sentence for environmental offences.

She has also vowed to contest her appeal, at a date yet to be set, against both.

The 42-year-old was convicted as the former director of T H Smith & Sons Ltd at Burnley Brown Court in August for offences concerning burning waste without the proper permits.

On Monday she was sentenced by the court to a 24-week curfew and ordered to pay £18,000 in costs.

The closure on September 21 was led by the police, alongside Hyndburn Council, the Environment Agency and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

It followed the magistrates court order ruling the commercial side of the site generating the smoke must cease all operations for the next three months.

The move followed the various authorities receiving hundreds of complaints from residents about anti social behaviour including 'the lighting and burning of waste producing smoke'.

Mr Smith said: "The ruling means we can continue to operate but I have promised not to conduct any burning operations on the site until the appeal hearing.

"Justice has been done. All the fencing has been removed and equipment returned.

"We have been unfairly treated by the police, the council and the Environment Agency.

"They have lied and lied and lied. We never burnt waste on the site, only wood, as we had been granted a permit to do.

"We will vigorously contest the appeal next month."

Mrs Smith said: "I have lodged an appeal against both my conviction and sentence at Burnley Crown Court. I shall vigorously contest both."

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said last night: “Following a closure order being served against the T H Smith site in Great Harwood, an appeal has been lodged and will be held on November 2 and 3 at Preston Crown Court.

“In the interim, following a court hearing this morning, the closure notice has been replaced with a court order making it a contempt of court for any fires to be lit at the site between now and the start of the appeal.

"We see this very much as a positive step as the consequences for any fire being deliberately started at the site are now tougher.

“We would like to reassure the public that we will continue to monitor activity at the site and if any members of the public see smoke coming from it, we would urge them to get in touch with us straight away on 101.”

Mr Smith said he had been forced to lay off five of his 15 staff because of the closure which was lifted yesterday.

During the August trial, Burnley Crown Court was told by prosecutors that over a 15-month period, T H Smith & Sons Ltd repeatedly accepted waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), when they were only permitted to handle scrap vehicles.

Environment Agency officers explained why WEEE was strictly regulated, due to the risks of environmental harm through its illegal disposal.