Waste cowboys prosper on north-west frontier

Cowboy operators are continuing to exploit gaping holes in Britain's waste management legislation and the lenient attitude of some courts to flagrant breaches of the law. In three recent prosecutions in north-west England, one operator was fined £20 for failing to comply with two notices requiring the clearance of an illegal waste mountain, an unlicensed drum reclaimer was fined for but is persisting with an environmentally hazardous operation - while a third was finally sent to jail after flouting the law for five years.

The cases illustrate how limited are the powers of the waste regulation authorities (WRAs) when faced with unscrupulous operators. In each case the WRAs struggled for years to get to grips with blatantly unlawful waste management activities - and ended up being held over a barrel to allow them to continue so that they themselves did not end up bearing the costs of clearing large illegal waste deposits.

  • Ernest Gregson, who runs a drum

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