Three company directors and a driver from a skip hire firm in Newton-le-Willows have appeared in court charged with dumping illegal waste across the North West including St Helens
The men have been prosecuted by the Environment Agency and sentenced to 113 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 720 hours of unpaid work and to pay a total of £4,000 compensation and £4,000 prosecutions costs for breaching an Environmental Permit and illegally dumping waste at sites in and around St Helens, Newton le Willows, and Warrington.
The three former directors of Evolution Skip Hire Ltd, Lee Burrows, Thomas Stephenson and Samuel Davis pleaded guilty to breaching an Environmental Permit and allowing the company to illegally deposit waste.
In addition Burrows and Stephenson pleaded guilty to an illegal deposit at Appleton, Warrington.
Peter Tracey pleaded guilty to making three illegal deposits of waste as directed to by Evolution Skip Hire Ltd.
Burrows was sentenced to 34 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to Persimmon Homes and £1,000 prosecution costs
Stephenson was sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to Persimmon Homes and £1,000 prosecution costs
Davis was sentenced to 28 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to Persimmon Homes and £1,000 prosecution costs
Tracey was sentenced to 21 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 compensation to Persimmon Homes and £1,000 prosecution costs.
Between June 2015 and July 2017 Stephenson, Davis, Burrows were directors of Evolution Skip Hire Ltd at Suez Street, Newton-le-Willows and the site was granted an Environmental Permit in November 2015 by the Environment Agency to operate a waste transfer station.
The Environment Agency brought the case against the three directors after they failed to comply with the permit conditions in that there was no written environmental management plan or fire prevention plan, waste was treated outside the building and waste was not stored securely within a building or secure container.
In total 21 visits were made by Environment Officers between the permit being issued and July 2017. During these visits Environment Officers gave advice and guidance on how to comply with their permit.
Also, despite officers agreeing an improvement plan with actions and timescales ultimately, although there were improvements, Evolution Skip Hire Ltd did not manage to complete the actions.
In March 2017 Environment Agency Officers served a suspension notice to prevent the firm bringing more waste on site. The suspension notice was served due to the amount of waste on site and the serious risk to the environment. However, it did not prevent them from treating and removing the waste already on site to a permitted facility or to appropriately store.
The directors admitted being neglectful in their duties for failing to stop the company illegally depositing waste at various locations across St Helens and Newton le Willows.
Enquiries led to the identification of Tracey as the driver of the vehicle that had illegally deposited the waste. He had taken his former employer's vehicle without permission and used it on behalf of Evolution Skip Hire Ltd.
Enquiries revealed the producers of the waste as personal items such as correspondence was within the illegal deposits. When Environment Agency officers contacted them, they confirmed they had hired a skip from Evolution Skip Hire Ltd and after being shown photos of the waste by officers they confirmed they had placed the items in the skip.
The waste was found at The Old Sugar Works, Sankey Valley Industrial Estate, Newton-le-Willows, The Willows, Earle Street, Newton-le-Willows and Lea Green Road, St Helens.
At the Lea Green Road location there was an access gate belonging to Network Rail which the illegal waste was blocking. This would have resulted in significant delay had there been any incident on the railway.
Waste was also deposited at The Willows, Earle Street. This site was occupied by Permission Homes for storage and access to their new housing development. It cost Permission Homes £11,444 to remove the waste and clean up the sitee.
Burrows and Stephenson also admitted an illegal deposit of waste at Tan House Farm Cattery. They used an Evolution Skip Hire vehicle to move trommel fines over two days from the permitted site to the Cattery.
Trommel fines are generated from the waste processing industry and are destined for landfill they consist of glass, ceramics and concrete. Although this was done with the consent of the land owner there was no relevant permit or exemption in place.
Simon Hurst, Area Environment Manager for Merseyside, said: “The Environment Agency takes waste crime very seriously and are committed to prosecuting when an offence has been committed.
"We are determined to make life hard for criminals. We support legitimate business and we are proactively supporting them by disrupting and stopping the criminal element.
"We would like to remind all landowners and occupiers that, they may be required to clear waste which has been deposited illegally at their own expense and may be prosecuted if they fail to do so. If you have any suspicions that waste is being deposited on your land please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or the police as soon as possible.”
Her Honour Judge Brandon after handing down sentence accepted that they had not deliberately set out to breach the law. They were incompetent, regretted what had happened and none of them had any previous convictions for environmental offences.
However the offences were aggravated by the duration of the offending, the failure to heed warnings and the fact the offences were motivated by financial gain.
The judge was clear that the offences were so serious that they passed the custody threshold. The sentences were only suspended in light of the defendants’ personal mitigation.
They were all parents and now in employment. Each of the directors reported having suffered mental health issues as a result of their involvement in the operation of the permitted site and were now either recently declared bankrupt or in the process of doing so.
If you see waste crime report it by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.