£92,000 bill for composting site mismanagement

Jack Moody Ltd has been fined £32,000 for failings at its composting site near Wolverhampton

The operator of a composting site and garden centre in South Staffordshire was fined £32,000 with £60,000 costs on 12 July. It had caused smells and emissions from its Hollybush Farm site near Wolverhampton.

Jack Moody Ltd pleaded guilty before Stafford magistrates’ court to a series of waste management offences committed between September 2006 and January 2008.

It had kept compost, or composting material, in a manner likely to cause pollution, contravened a waste management licence, and deposited waste without a licence. These were offences under sections 33(1)(c); 33(6); and 33(1)(a) and (33)(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The court heard that Environment Agency officers visited the site many times to issue warnings. A suspension notice was finally served on 11 December 2007. But the site was still receiving waste the following month. The agency then decided to suspend Jack Moody’s waste management licence.

But the site continued to operate illegally. The presiding district judge concluded that this was evidence of a commercial motivation for the offences.

While it was in place, the company’s waste management licence required it to fence the site and prevent unauthorised access. This was breached, as the company had suffered fires attributed to vandalism.

The fires, combined with rotting compost, had led to odorous and polluting emissions.

The defence counsel said that the experienced operators were trying to produce a quality product for reuse. The court heard that the company had not been given enough advice on how to extinguish the fires, but the agency argued that the local fire service had provided sufficient guidance.

After the case, managing director Robert Moody told ENDS that “changes to processes were put in place immediately after this incident”. He also said that five other charges were dropped by the agency, with the judge awarding costs to his company.

Jack Moody Ltd produced the first compost to bear the ‘Composting Association accredited’ logo in September 2002 (ENDS Report, November 2002).

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