The two owners of S&P Motor Services, known as Bobbing Car Breakers, were each fined £1,350 and each told to pay £1,122 in costs, with a victim’s surcharge of £135 by Maidstone Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching their environmental permit.
The charges were brought against Mr Gary Pilcher and Mrs Valerie Pilcher, the operators of the site located at Sheppey Way, Sittingbourne, Kent. Following a site visit from the Environment Agency on 25 September 2014, environment officers found that the site hardstanding was in a poor state of repair, containing ruts, holding water and suffering from significant oil contamination caused by an accumulation of small spills which breached the environmental permit.
The Environment Agency issued a Regulation 36 notice to Mr and Mrs Pilcher to carry out repairs to fix the hardstanding and clear up the oil spills in order to comply with their permit and minimise the potential risk to the surrounding environment. The Environment Agency visited the site on 14 January 2015 to check compliance and found there had been no progress to fix the hardstanding. Mr Pilcher stated that he had been unable to do the work due to the weather conditions over the period of the notice. The Environment Agency requested that Mr and Mrs Pilcher state when they expected to be able to complete the required works and they gave assurances that they could complete the work by summer 2015.
On 31 January 2015 the Environment Agency withdrew the first notice and issued a second notice to Mr Gary Pilcher and Mrs Valerie Pilcher requiring them to comply with the conditions of their permit by repairing the hardstanding, and undertaking works to address the oil spills and remove the oil contaminated waste. This notice expired on 31 August 2015 and during a following site visit to check compliance with the notice, it was confirmed that no action had been taken by Mr and Mrs Pilcher.
Environment Manager, Alan Cansdale said:
The Environment Agency gave Mr and Mrs Pilcher ample opportunity to make the repairs and comply with the conditions of their environmental permit, but no action was taken. We have a duty to ensure that all operators comply with the conditions of their permit and will always try to work with operators first in order to ensure compliance.
Because of the poor condition of the site the oil could have escaped, polluting the local environment. In cases like this where individuals consistently do not comply with the conditions of their permit, we have no hesitation in prosecuting them as it is vital that companies comply with their permit to safeguard the environment.