Skip hire company fined for illegal use of waste site
The charges were brought against the company after an Environment Agency (EA) investigation found ‘significant volumes’ of waste on and around the company’s waste site, exceeding the environmental permit limits of 20 tonnes of non-hazardous waste and 150 tonnes of inert waste.
Last week (24 September), Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard how site inspections in 2013 identified multiple permit breaches, with ‘excessive amounts of waste’ on the property and the site’s infrastructure in a state of disrepair.
According to the EA, officers worked with the site operator to address the issues and agreed a course of action, but these actions were not taken.
Two enforcement notices were subsequently issued in May 2014, with staged timescales to bring the site into compliance by 14 September 2014.
These included adhering with the conditions of the environmental permit and removing the huge stockpile of waste, which was now crushing and covering the site’s boundary fences and spreading onto land belonging to several different landowners.
However, the site was inspected on 15 September 2014, and officers judged the site to be ‘still far below the standards required’, with multiple breaches noted.
At the hearing, the company, based in the Medway town of Strood, pleaded guilty to the offences and was fined £10,000 and made to pay additional costs of £5,000.
Additionally, the company’s owner, Peter Walsh, was fined £1,500 with additional costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £120.
Company’s actions ‘undermine legitimate businesses’
After the hearing, Alan Cansdale, Environment Agency Environment Manager, said: “The limits within Walsh’s environmental permit reflect the limited space and infrastructure at the site, which is crucial as the mismanagement of waste can have a detrimental impact on the local environment.
“The site operator had a history of poor performance and my team have worked with him in the past to improve the situation. However, on this occasion he was unable to do so. Those that repeatedly fail to comply with regulations pose a heightened risk to the environment and undermine legitimate business. In such circumstances we will have no hesitation prosecuting to ensure that waste crime doesn’t pay.”
Environment Agency clamping down on waste crime
The EA has been increasingly targeting waste criminals, including by seeking to promote awareness of waste crime to private landowners and the public.
It has urged the public to be on the lookout for signs of waste crime, including night-time activity, polluted waterways, increased noise and lorries going into sites and not coming out.
The organisation has also warned landowners of the costs of removing illegally dumped waste, which it says is often found less than 50 metres from homes, schools, hospitals and areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Moreover, to help tackle environmental crime, the EA has received funding of around £470,000 from the European Union to develop the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE).
The network will support those prosecuting waste crime, particularly illegal shipments, the destruction of wildlife and natural habitats and those relating to industrial discharges and chemicals.
Learn more about how the EA investigates those committing waste crimes.