AN illegal scrapyard off the A127 has been given five weeks to shut down or face enforcement action.

Essex Police will be questionning a 49-year-old man about suspicious items discovered at the unauthorised site, known as Treetops near Cranfield Park Avenue, in Wickford.

Police, along with officers from Basildon Council, used new Government legislation to issue a closure notice at the site yesterday.

The yard now has until March 7 to clear up, otherwise officers will seek a closure order from Basildon Magistrates’ Court, which will force it to shut down.

Yesterday, 25 aluminium beer kegs and a BT generator were all found at the site.

A 49-year-old man will attend Basildon police station to explain how the items got there.

Sgt Paul Costin, who led the operation, said: “We have served a closure notice and will be working with the owner over the coming weeks to ensure he is complying with the notice.

“It has been a very successful operation. I amhappy we have received the kegs and will be working to trace their origins.

“We want to send out a strong message we will be keeping a close scrutiny of the scrap metal trade in Basildon.

“We will be turning up the heat on unlicensed traders.”

Treetops has a chequered history of enforcement activity.

In 2009 Basildon councillors voted to clear the site using a team of bailiffs.

However in 2010 chiefs halted the plans after it emerged it would be too expensive.

Councillor Richard Moore, cabinet member responsible for planning, said: “The level of activity at Treetops scrapyard has frequently changed over the years making it difficult for the council’s enforcement team to act upon enforcement notices at this particular site.

“However, new scrapmetal legislation has enabled our licensing team to work with the police to take further steps to halt unauthorised scrap operations.”