The offence took place at a site off Fordshill Road in Hereford, without an environmental permit being in force for the activities.
The company were fined £18,000, ordered to pay £7,732.75 in costs, along with a £120 victim surcharge.
The charge was brought by the Environment Agency contrary to Regulations 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 1990.
Facts of the offence
The Environment Agency became aware of the illegal storage of waste on the site on 19 June 2012 and instructed E2L to remove the waste and cease operating in this area until the correct permits had been obtained. E2L do hold an environmental permit for waste operations on land adjacent to the site in question, which demonstrates that they were aware of the legal requirements.
Prior to this E2L submitted a planning application to develop a waste washing facility at the site which would enable them to recycle some of the waste. The Environment Agency agreed any further enforcement action would be put on hold pending the outcome of the planning application.
In late March 2013, the Environment Agency was informed by Herefordshire Council that E2Ls planning application had been refused. Therefore the Environment Agency reinstated the enforcement action and contacted E2L requesting they put forward a timetable for removal of the waste.
E2L confirmed at the end of May 2013 that they would be able to remove all the waste within 6 months, therefore the Environment Agency served a notice requiring that the site be cleared of all illegally stored material by 30 November 2013. E2L later requested that the deadline be extended until 31 January 2014, which was granted.
On 2 December 2013, Environment Agency officers noticed fresh waste had been tipped on the site despite E2L knowing this was illegal. On 31 January 2014, the date for final compliance with the notice, there were still 3 large heaps of waste amounting to around 12,000 tonnes on site.
The situation had not improved by 29 April 2014 and it was apparent that fresh waste had been deposited on the site. By 19 August 2014 only half of the waste had been removed, leaving 6,000 tonnes still being stored on the site illegally. The adjacent watercourse, the Red Brook, was partially blocked by silt and debris as a result of the operations on the site.
Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said:
E2L were fully aware of their obligations to comply with the environmental permitting rules but chose to ignore them. For over two years E2L did not take the Environment Agency’s continuous interventions seriously and failed to remove the illegally stored waste, instead they continued to deposit fresh waste on the site which left prosecution the only possible course of action. We take waste crime extremely seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute in cases such as this.
The Court said it was disappointed that the remainder of the waste had not been removed by the time of the hearing and ordered that the site be cleared within 3 months.
In mitigation, the court was told that the company had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.