A CONTROVERSIAL scrapyard briefly closed over accusations of illegal waste burning has been allowed to stay open provided no fires are lit on the site.

Judge Ian Leeming QC yesterday placed an order on T H Smith and Sons' site in Great Harwood which bans the owners from permitting any blazing materials.

A police spokesman said he hoped the ruling at Preston Crown Court would end a long saga of complaints by residents about smoke at the yard in Meadow Street.

On September 21 a joint operation by police, the fire service, Hyndburn Council and the Environment Agency closed the site now operated by GHM Metals Recycling Ltd.

On October 5 the firm’s owners Tommy and Mary Smith got the closure order lifted pending appeal and a temporary ruling banning burning at the site was imposed instead.

At yesterday’s hearing the police and their partners decided not to seek renewal of the closure order but obtained a six-month extension of the contempt of court order banning fires.

With a one-day exception for Saturday November 4, when the Smiths intend to hold a family bonfire, the couple now face two years in jail for any breach involving burning.

Mr Smith, 40, said: “We’ve won. This has been a waste of taxpayers' money and we now have our scrapyard back.

“There has been no burning on the site for a long time and we will observe the order.”

A spokesman said: “The consequences for any fire being deliberately started are now tougher than if a closure order had been granted.

“Since October we have had no fires at the site and we hope this continues.

“We hope this reassures members of the local community that we are doing everything we can. If fire lighting does continue we will continue to use all the powers available to us.

“It is not a waste of taxpayers’ money. We are responding to concerns raised by the community. The Smiths are the ones who have caused these issues and necessitated this course of action.”

Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson said: “I am pleased this will end the nuisance for Great Harwood residents. There have been no problems since the original contempt of court order was put in place.”

The police spokesman said: “We will continue to monitor activity at the site. This result is a positive step for the community of Hyndburn, and we would like to thank them for their patience and support.”