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Former waste bosses fined for flouting permit rules

Two former company directors of waste management company Carr and Bircher Ltd have been ordered to pay £22,000 and £19,000 for not following a suitable waste testing regime and filling their landfill with unsuitable waste.

Colin Carr and David Bircher admitted to breaching landfill permit regulations from October 2012 to March 2015. The pair were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on 11 September.

Environment Agency workersFollowing an investigation and warnings from the Environment Agency (EA), Carr, 60, and Bircher, 64, continued to not test waste sufficiently and discard unsuitable waste into a landfill in Essex.

The landfill is neither chemically nor biologically reactive so can only be filled with inert waste.

Officers from the EA visited Carr and Bircher Ltd’s facilities in August 2013 to find landfill permit regulations being broken. The company directors promised removal of the inappropriate waste but in October another visit found the waste still on the site in stockpiles.

The investigation discovered that the company had avoided both the expenses of testing the waste and the expenses of sending the unsuitable waste to an alternative site. Both defendants denied that the waste had not been tested in order to save money.

EA officers recommended that the landfill should be capped due to high levels of sulphates measured in the area. However, this was never implemented by the two men.

Phil Henderson, EA enforcement team leader, said: “We are committed to investigating criminal waste operators where we suspect they are not following the rules put in place to protect the environment and create a level playing field for businesses.”

Carr and Bircher stepped down from their director positions in May 2015 which followed with the company entering administration in August 2017.

Carr was fined £7,000 plus costs of £9,600, with 12 months to pay and six months’ imprisonment in default. Meanwhile Bircher was fined £15,400 plus costs of £9,600 with 28 days to pay, and 12 months’ imprisonment in default.

The EA and the government are seeking to crack down on the £600-million criminal waste industry. At the start of the year a new waste crime task force was launched, bringing together law enforcement agencies, UK environment regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency in conducting site inspections and making arrests and prosecutions.

It was brought about by a proposal in the Resources and Waste Strategy, while the Environment Bill also contains further powers to tackle waste crime and littering.

The EA recently called for vigilance during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that criminals do not take advantage of quieter waste sites and facilities.

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