A Chesterfield skip hire and scrap metal firm has been fined £16,000 for illegally disposing of waste by burning it.
Richard Fletcher (Metals) Ltd, based at Newbridge Lane, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, was sentenced by North East Derbyshire & Dales Magistrates on 16 April following an Environment Agency investigation.
It was on Bonfire Night last year that the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to a large fire on the company’s premises.
The company had contacted the fire service earlier that day to inform them that a small, controlled fire had been started, but it was claimed that this had got out of control.
By the evening, the blaze was emitting a lot of dark smoke, which was heading south west in the direction of Chesterfield town centre. It took fire fighters 90 minutes to bring the fire under control.
The next day, on 6 November, the Environment Agency received a call from Chesterfield Council’s environmental health team, who reported that coach seats, rubber, metal, and vinyl were being burned on the site.
The fire was indeed still burning, and the fire brigade went back to Richard Fletcher’s when it received a report that a bus was on fire. Fire fighters spent two-and-a-half hours putting out the fire and dampening down the remains.
Nadine Sime, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that investigating officers inspected the smouldering remains and found several types of burnt waste, including soil, metal, plastic, rubber, cardboard, rubble, and foam chairs.
At the side of the fire were three burnt-out coaches, several piles of burnt metal, and tyres. The smoke caused the investigating officer’s eyes to sting, and for up to an hour after leaving the site she felt nauseous.
Another visit on 8 November revealed that another fire had been started, this time in a 200-litre drum that was being used to burn paper and general rubbish.
In court, the firm admitted one charge of disposing of waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health
Representing the company, firm director Richard Fletcher said in mitigation that the waste had been burned by staff who did not know that doing so was against the law.
Fran Lowe, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency, said:
Uncontrolled burning of waste is a serious offence, posing significant risks to human health and the environment. In addition, fire service attendance to control such fires represents a considerable cost to the public purse. We will not tolerate waste crime of this nature and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where necessary. It is pleasing to see that the courts mirror our view on the severity of this incident.
In addition to the fine, the company was ordered to pay £3,097.73 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120.