Environment Agency Prosecutions – 2016
Chemical leak lands Bucks company in court – 22 December 2016
Tradebe Solvent Recycling Ltd offered a guilty plea to Sunderland Magistrates Court yesterday in respect of a chemical leak at their Sunderland recyling operation. The company had voluntarily reported a spill of a non-hazardous chemical to the Environment Agency and had co-operated fully with investigators, impressing Distright Judge Roger Elsey with their response to the incident and their committment to both remediation and prevention of future occurences. A fine of 27,000 was awarded, along with costs of £11,960. You can read further details here.
Waste carrier checks in Staines and surrounding area – 16 December 2016
A combined Environment Agency, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, HMRC and Government Agency Intelligence Network operation has been stopping waste carriers in Surrey. Under changes that came into force in January 2014, anyone carrying waste as part of their business activities must now be licensed and all waste movements must be accompanied by the correct paperwork. The combined force operation was carried out as part of the Right Waste, Right Waste campaign and aimed at ensuring that waste carriers understood the law and how to meet their obligations. You can read more about the operation here.
Ipsden Heath man ran illegal waste site – 9 December 2016
An illegal skip business run by Geoffrey Parker has been closed down. The Hundridge Farm site was first subject to legal action in 2009, but was still operating in 2014. Mr Parker was handed a suspended jail sentence in Reading Magistrates Court and fined £7,600 with additional costs. He has until January 2017 to clean up the site and remediate the land. Find out more here.
Illegal waste export raid – 19 October 2016
A storage facilty in Essex has been raided following intelligence that it was being used to store waste goods prior to illegal export. A combined Environment Agency, Police, Immigration, HMRC and other agency raid discovered WEEE, stolen gas bottles and other stolen goods along with evidence to suggest the objects were being prepared for export to Africa. Under current regulations, it is illegal to export WEEE and other other hazardous waste to non-OECD countries and the goods have been seized for safe disposal. You can read the full press release here.
Curfew for Sittingbourne landowner – 12 October 2016
Ignoring advice from the Environment Agency about the law regarding waste disposal has cost a Kent landowner dearly – financially and in terms of his liberth. Paul Woodcock was fined £2,300 costs and given a four month suspended sentence with an ‘electronically monitored Home Detention Curfew’ (electronic tagging) between the hours of 7pm and 7am. The sentence follows Environment Agency interventions in 2015 when Mr Woodcock was found to be illegally storing waste on land owned by him in Wormshill. The Agency were alerted to the presence of the waste in June 2015 and went through various stages of discussion with Mr Woodcock before having to resort to prosecution. The outcome is clear evidence that waste crime will not go unnoticed and action will be taken to protect the environment and legitimate waste businesses. You can read the official press release here.
Brothers prosecuted over mis-management of waste sites – 30 September 2016
Poor management of Wiltshire waste sites, which lead to two fires and subsequent pollution, has led two brothers into court. David and Lee Averies have had licenses and permits for their businesses revoked and, having pleaded guilty to charges of breaching environmental regulations, will be sentenced next month. The brothers ran three waste sites across Wiltshire, two of which suffered serious fires in recent years that caused significant disruption to locals and led to air and water pollution. Further details are available on the official press release.
UPDATE 27/06/16: Sentences were handed down today. Lee Averies – who had a previous conviction related to waste offences – was sentenced to serve three 12 month concurrent prison terms, suspended for two years, and banned from working in the waste industry for ficve years, under the terms of a Criminal Behaviour Order. David Averies was disqualified from serving as a company director for three years and fined £4,208 and ordered to pay additional costs of £50,000. Calne Aggregate Holdings Ltd (a company in which Lee Averies was a Director) is subject to Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation proceedings expected to be completed in 2017.
Failing to deal with odours lands company in court – 21 September 2016
AmeyCespa (East) have been fined £50,000 with £13,336 in costs for failing to control odours at a biowaste site in Waterbeach, Cambridge. The Court head that the company had a ‘history of non-compliance’ at the site and had, in addition, been slow to respond to Environment Agency advice and enforcement notices. The company had eventually complied and pleaded guilty with a ‘genuine’ apology. The fine handed down is the maximum available to the sentencing judge for this offence, an indication of just how seriously the courts are now taking such offences. More information is available here.
Second jail term for persistent waste offender – 14 September 2016
A Hampshire businessman has been sentenced to 30 weeks in prison, five years after serving a 2 year sentence, for waste crime. Marcus Bairstow was convicted in 2011 for illegally dumping waste and, in addition to his prison sentence, given a 5 year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). The court heard that in May 2015, Mr Bairstow again began storing waste – in contravention of the ASBO – and a fire broke out in July of that year that set light to nearby surroundings. The court also heard evidence that Bairstow had been involved in the illegal dumping on waste on various sites over several months, for financial gain and to the detriment of the local environment and legitimate waste businesses. The official press release contains further details.
Another water company in court – 6 September 2016
Southerm Water have pleaded guilty to failures at their Tunbridge Wells North water treatment works. The works, which are covered by an environmental permit, exceeded the threshold conditions of the permit over a 12 month period in 2013-14. Following an Environment Agency investigation into the breaches, The Court heard that Southern Water have spent £360,000 on improvements and have plans to spend a further £6,000,000 to ensure the works remain compliant in the future. A fine of £24,000 was imposed, with costs of £33,218. Further details are available on the official press release.
Stream pollution leads to fine for Cornish farmer – 24 August 2016
An estimated 50,000 gallons of slurry, originating from East Lanescot Farm, polluted two streams and a duck pond in Par, Cornwall, landing the farmer in court. The court heard that recommendations after a previous incident had not been followed. Fined £675, with £8,214 of costs awarded against him, David Phillips had taken immediate steps to end the illegal release, but had not notified the Environment Agency as required. You can read more about the case here.
Illegal woodpile leads to jail term for Sussex man – 23 August 2016
1,200 tonnes of wood, illegally stored in Uckfield, led to a Sussex business man trying to flee the country. A waste wood processing company, co-owned by Tom McCabe, was found to be in breach of the conditions of its waste permit. On being served with an enforcement notice to correct the breach, Mr McCabe ‘went on the run’ leaving the landowners facing a bill of between £100,000 and £200,000 to clear the land. Caught by airport police as he was about to board a flight to Dubai, McCabe was brought to court, where he pleaded guilty, and has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and a £3,000 contribution to costs. His business partner had previously been handed a 12 month Community Service Order with 200 hours of unpaid work, a lesser sentence as she was not the ‘main operator of the business’. The official press release can be read here.
Significant fine for water company pollution – 18 August 2016
Allowing sewage to pollute a watercourse in Yorkshire has landed Yorkshire water with a £350,000 fine and £30,000 costs order. Failures at a sewage overflow had allowed significant quantities of untreated sewage to enter Rud Beck and flow into the River Crimple. The fine reflected the fact that Yorkshire Water had taken appropriate action immediately it discovered the pollution had occurred, including informing the Environment Agency, taking full responsibility for the failures and effecting a clean up. It had also upgraded it’s warning telemetry system to ensure that incidents of a similar nature could not reoccur. The full press release gives more details.