Company to pay £70,000 for flouting waste licence

A waste management company that illegally stored a 250,000-cubic-metre mountain of waste has been fined £63,000 with costs of over £6,000. The Environment Agency had to use global positioning satellites to measure the huge volume of waste on site.

Wiggins Transport Ltd, of Stanwell Moor, Staines, runs a waste transfer station at Poyle Manor Farm near Slough. The site’s waste management licence, dating from 1993, allows the company to treat stone, concrete and brick waste, but limits on-site storage to 35,000m3, piled to a height of four metres.

Routine Agency inspections during 2002 and 2003 revealed the company was in breach of its licence. So much waste was stored that global positioning satellites had to be used to calculate its volume.

Almost 100,000m3, heaped to 14 metres, was stored on the licensed part of the site. Another 155,000m3 was stored outside this area on an impermeable surface with unsealed drains. Waste was also being burned illegally.

Throughout 2002 and 2003 the Agency repeatedly told Wiggins Transport to make its site compliant. However, the company maintained there was a mistake in its waste management licence, arguing it was allowed to store waste up to 7.5 metres high.

By February 2004, the site still did not comply and the Agency served an enforcement notice requiring it to remove the excess waste within six months. But when officers returned in August the volume of stored waste had increased to about 110,000m3 on the licensed area and 175,000m3 on the unlicensed area.

The Agency suspended the company’s licence and served a notice on the landowner and "consultant" to the company, Cecil Wiggins, requiring the waste’s removal.

Instead, the company applied to increase its licence’s storage limits. The application was rejected because the site’s management did not hold a certificate of technical competence, required under the waste management licensing regime. When the system was introduced, existing managers were exempted from obtaining a certificate unless they changed jobs or tried to modify a site’s licence (ENDS Report 281, pp 40-41 ).

On 21 December at Guildford crown court, Wiggins Transport pleaded guilty to nine charges under sections 33(1) and 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. These related to breaching conditions of its waste management licence and depositing, keeping, treating and disposing of waste on land without a waste management licence. It was fined £63,000 with £6,110 costs.

Cecil Wiggins pleaded guilty to three charges under the same sections of the Act and was fined £10,000 with £3,000 costs.

In mitigation, the company said there had been no environmental pollution. If there had, it would have been prosecuted for keeping waste in a manner likely to cause pollution under section 33(1)(c) of the 1990 Act.

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