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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 01:50 GMT 02:50 UK
BP Buncefield plans are condemned
The Buncefield depot on fire
The Buncefield explosion happened on 11 December 2005
Plans by BP to resume storage of petrol and diesel at the Buncefield oil depot in Hertfordshire have been condemned by a local business organisation.

The Maylands Partnership represents businesses, the borough council and the local development agency.

It says BP's decision ignores the wishes of hundreds of local businesses and could jeopardise vital investment in the area.

An explosion at the depot in 2005 was the largest in peacetime Europe.

Firefighters fought the blaze for four days, and many residents and businesses were forced into temporary accommodation for months.

A leak of petrol from a storage tank was blamed for the explosion, yet it is understood BP intends to resume storage of petrol and oil in 3 of 7 available tanks at Buncefield next year.

'Heightened anxieties'

The Maylands Partnership maintains some tanks are less than 100 metres from business premises.

Roy Bain, director of the Maylands Partnership, said BP's decision flies in the face of its strongest recommendations.

"We have invited BP to reconsider its position but they rejected that and have decided to proceed regardless.

"The Maylands Partnership will continue to oppose this and there are certainly heightened anxieties within Maylands.

"Some [businesses] have said they will relocate if petrol storage returns."

BP says it is fully aware of local concerns over its plans and will only press ahead if the relevant authorities deem it safe to do so.

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