The operators of an illegal waste dumping site have been hit with financial penalties totaling over £100,000 for dumping waste without an environmental permit or an exemption for the waste to be deposited. The Environment Agency also found there was no system in place or capacity to protect the environment from pollution.

In total over 6,000 tonnes of waste was deposited in the grounds of a private residence. The area used to dump the waste was close to a river and the quantity of waste dumped caused the land to be raised by approximately two metres. The area was an area liable to flooding and a designated flood plain designed to safely hold water in times of high water. The increase in the height of the land by the presence of waste material beneath the surface could have caused flood water to be diverted elsewhere with potentially devastating consequences for homeowners and businesses.

The owner of the land was found to have acted negligently to a high degree in committing the offences. He was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £30,789 in costs. The judge ordered that he serve nine months’ imprisonment if the fine is not paid within three months.

The waste management company was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay £18,648 in costs.

A Director of the waste management company was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £18,648 costs. He was given a default prison sentence of two months’ if the fine is not paid within nine months.

The case highlights the potential consequences of failing to comply with environmental regulations and the attitude of the courts to offences of this type. It demonstrates that the Environment Agency will prosecute businesses, directors and those involved in the commission of offences. Since the introduction of sentencing guidelines for environmental offences in February 2015 extremely heavy fines and prison sentences for non-payment of confiscation orders have become the norm in Environment Agency prosecutions. This in turn has encouraged the Agency to pursue cases through the courts as the costs awarded can be lucrative.

If you are being investigated by the environment agency and they wish to interview you under caution, or are instigating proceedings, contact our expert team of regulatory lawyers for advice on 0113 284 5000.

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