Courts hear a spate of waste prosecutions

The courts have been kept busy in recent months, dealing with a series of prosecutions for waste offences.

A string of companies and individuals were fined in February and March, following Environment Agency prosecutions for waste offences.

On 17 February, Kettering magistrates fined waste firm Think Environmental Ltd £20,000 with £4,174 costs. The company’s director David Heighton was fined £10,000 with £2,000 costs.

Both had pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 12 and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. Mr Heighton also pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 41(1)(a) and (b).

The court heard that in 2009, commercial and domestic waste had been illegally buried beneath a paddock at Blackbridge Farm, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, adjacent to Think Environmental’s site.

September 2009 site visits raised agency suspicions that waste had been illegally deposited. Staff told agency officers that they had been asked to dig five-metre-deep holes in the paddock. Heighton had told them the site’s permit allowed this, but he later told staff to conceal the paddock from future agency visits.

Core samples taken in February 2010 confirmed that waste had been buried. Other agency visits found waste being poorly stored on the permitted site. An enforcement notice was served in October 2009, which was complied with in January 2010.

Iain Bomberg, Think Environmental’s commercial director, told ENDS the offences resulted from decisions taken by one director to breach the company’s approach to environmental compliance.

On 23 February, three people were ordered to pay a total of £34,500 by Stafford magistrates for illegally burying waste at a Staffordshire farm in 2008.

Stuart Holford, formerly of waste firm Holford Contracts Ltd, pleaded guilty to two charges under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. He was fined £18,000 with £14,000 costs.

Two former employees, Steven Birch and Graham Robinson, unsuccessfully pleaded not guilty to the same charges. Collectively, they were ordered to pay £2,500 in fines and costs.

In October 2007, the company received 364 tonnes of food waste at Grindley House Farm, Stowe by Chartley. The site had no waste management licence.

On 21 March 2008, Robinson and Birch were seen burying the waste at the farm. This was reported seven months later, leading to an agency investigation in November 2009 which unearthed large amounts of putrefying food and liquid waste. The company has since gone into liquidation.

Worskop-based Nottinghamshire Recycling Limited was fined £10,000 by the town’s magistrates on 17 February, after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. It was also told to pay £5,000 towards costs.

The court heard part of the company’s site had a waste permit and part was covered by four registered exemptions which meant a permit was not required, provided activity was kept within set limits.

Despite repeated Environment Agency warnings, the company continued to breach the limits between June 2008 and May 2010.

Treated wood waste and shredded paper and plastics were incorrectly stored, generating dust, odours and air pollution.

The company was served with an enforcement notice in December 2009, requiring the waste to be removed, but it failed to comply.

A Bromsgrove man was fined on 23 February for illegally depositing and storing waste at Causeway Meadow Farm in Hereford.

Redditch magistrates fined Richard Aylett £6,000 with £3,250 costs after he pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 12 and 38 (1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.

After receiving a report from a member of the public, Environment Agency officers visited the farm on 2 October 2008. They found large amounts of household, commercial and construction waste in a farm building and deposits of green waste, soil and fire ash. The site had no waste permit.

In mitigation, Aylett said he responded promptly to requests to remove the waste.

Harlow magistrates ordered Basildon–based Springfield Skip Hire Ltd to pay £5,500 in fines and costs on 25 February. Its director, Darren Lee, was fined £1,500 with £1,000 costs.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 12 and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007, sections 34(5) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and regulation 3 of the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991.

Mr Lee also pleaded guilty to running illegal waste operations at the site, contrary to the 2007 and 1991 regulations and the 1990 act.

The prosecution stemmed from a January 2009 raid by police and the Environment Agency, on a site at Moreland Industrial Estate in Rettendon, Essex.

The raid revealed several hundred tonnes of mixed waste, comprising car parts, metals, rubble, asbestos, electrical equipment, burnt tyres and battery waste.

Skips containing household and office waste and black asphalt were also found.

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