A Sheffield-based recycling centre and two of its Senior Officers have been fined £9,000 and received community service orders totalling 240 hours for breaching their environmental permit by handling excessive amounts of waste at their premises.
On Tuesday 13 August, M White Ltd was fined £9,000 at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay costs of £8,810 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case after a number of attempts over a period of three years to get the firm to comply with its permit.
Mark White, M White Ltd’s Director, and his son and Site Manager, James White, were also each given 120 hours of community service to carry out for their failings.
On 28 June 2013, the defendants were each found guilty of three charges in relation to the waste crime offences at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court. It was revealed that they all faced two charges for handling volumes of waste in excess of those permitted by the Environment Agency, and one charge of failing to comply with an enforcement notice.
On that day, prosecuting for the Environment Agency (EA), Syan Ventom, told the Court how the licence for its site at Worthing Road, Attercliffe, Sheffield, allows a maximum of 200 tonnes of inert waste and 250 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste (HCI). However, an audit of the site in April 2008 revealed there to be 1,840 tonnes of inert waste on the site and 377 tonnes of HCI waste.
Visits to the site by investigating officers in 2009 and 2010 revealed that waste volumes were still too high, while officers also stated that on occasions there appeared to be no proper segregation between the two different types of waste.
Despite being repeatedly warned about the limits of their permit, as well as being given advice on how to apply for a permit variation to allow more waste to be stored on site, EA said no changes were made and there was not an application submitted for a different permit.
The Court was then informed that another audit was carried out in June 2011, which showed that inert waste was 334 tonnes over the permitted limit, while HCI waste was 1,388 tonnes over limit.
Although approximately 330 tonnes of waste was subsequently removed by August 2011, it was revealed that amounts remained in excess of the limits set by the permit and therefore an enforcement notice was then served on the firm, demanding compliance. However, by January 2012, compliance had not been achieved.
According to the firm, its failings were due to problems with equipment and staffing issues. In addition, it said that it had received a tax demand of £68,000 requiring the firm to continue taking in waste for the income it generated, despite being in breach of the permit.
Commenting on the conclusion of this case, Edd Betts, Environment Officer at the Environment Agency, said:
“Waste transfer sites such as this one require an environmental permit which have limitations in place that are essential to protect the environment and prevent any harm to human health.
“The Environment Agency is keen to work with companies and give advice as far as possible to allow waste businesses to operate, but in this case we have seen our advice ignored and an enforcement notice breached caused by non-compliance with the permit.”
“We hope today’s result sends out a clear message that permits must be in place and complied with to protect local communities, and we will act where necessary to ensure this happens.”