Business

Darlington man prosecuted for waste offences

A Darlington man has been given a two-year community order, incorporating 20 rehabilitation activity days and 300 hours of unpaid work, after magistrates in Middlesbrough sentenced him for ‘serious waste offences’.

Waste at the Trinity Works site at Haverton Hill
Waste at the Trinity Works site at Haverton Hill
John Burnside Jones, of Coniscliffe Road in Darlington, was sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on 2 September. He had previously pleaded guilty to involvement in illegally misdescribing waste for financial gain.

The prosecution will also see Jones disqualified from acting as a company director for three years, and he has been ordered to pay £490 costs.

Environment Agency (EA) officers visited Jones’ waste operation at the Trinity Works site in Haverton Hill, Billingham in January 2019. They found the business to be processing large volumes of waste types, despite this being outside the scope of the site’s environmental permit.

Officers also reported that the site lacked the required management systems to deal with its environmental risks. Jones was served with notices requiring details of the site’s waste but failed to respond to these in full.

Further investigations by the EA highlight that over 6,000 tonnes of unpermitted, combustible waste had been transported to the site from as far away as Bristol between September 2018 and February 2019. Jones transported more than 11,000 tonnes of inert waste soils to a nearby landfill site during this period.

Inconsistencies between the volumes of incoming and outgoing waste are the result of Jones mixing incoming waste with soil and stones, left from previous site operations, and falsely describing this resulting mixture as inert waste.

As a result of this, the EA says, Jones was able to make ‘large sums of money by flouting his environmental obligations’. This is because inert waste incurs significantly lower landfill tax per tonne and can be disposed of at a reduced rate at landfill facilities, without the same level of safeguards and protections as would be required normally.

In mitigation, Jones stated that although his company had operated the site, he had ‘limited direct involvement and had been very naïve in relying upon others to run the site for him’. He added that had ‘never previously been in trouble and fully co-operated with the investigation’ and admitted that he had ‘never seen the site’s environmental permit and was oblivious to its requirements’.

The court ruled that the offending was deliberate and committed for financial gain.

A spokesperson for the EA said: "The conditions of an environmental permit are designed to protect people and the environment. Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment, undermine local legitimate environmental permit holders, put jobs at risk and cause misery for local communities.

"We welcome sentencing by the Court, which should act as a deterrent to others considering flouting the law."