Thousands of tonnes of waste were deposited at a Lincoln site in breach of an environmental permit and planning conditions.
Despite having its permit revoked by the Environment Agency and 2 enforcement notices and 2 breach of condition notices served by Lincolnshire County Council, SOS Skip Hire and Haulage took in even more waste at its site in Dale Street.
The company’s sole director, Shaun Nigel Dixon, aged 47, has today (Mon) been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 2 years and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work in the community, after the court heard he allowed nearly 20,000 tonnes of waste to be brought to the site when the limit was only 1,100 tonnes. The waste was 7 to 8 metres high in places, breaching planning conditions.
5 year disqualification
Recorder Mr GRW Evans QC sitting at Lincoln Crown Court also disqualified him from being a company director for 5 years and issued a regulation 44 order requiring him to produce a plan for how he is going to clear the site.
Sentencing he said that this was a deliberate and flagrant breach of the law and Dixon dealt with the business in an amateurish way.
Dixon, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, was also ordered to pay £16,094 costs.
Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, in a joint prosecution for the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council as Waste Planning Authority, said the company had a permit to run a waste transfer station issued in March 2012.
Between then and 2014 investigating officers made many visits to the site where they found between 13 and 17 times as much waste as permitted with wastes also exceeding the permitted height limit. She said:
Dixon knew the limits and failed to reduce the amount kept at the site. He even allowed more waste to be accepted, compounding the problem.
Company in liquidation
She told the court that Dixon blamed lack of finances as the reason for his actions. The company has since gone into liquidation.
Mrs McDonald said that in April 2013 the county council served 2 enforcement notices and 2 breach of condition notices and in December 2013 the Environment Agency revoked the permit but more waste was brought in.
The largest pile and the one which caused the officers the most concern was a very large pile of mixed waste akin to landfill waste but without the precautions that a legitimate landfill site would have in place.
The waste was decomposing causing black stagnant liquid to leach out of the waste, bad odours, litter and an increase in flies. The excessive height of the wastes were also harmful to visual amenity.
On 6 August 2013 officers noted that the large pile was emitting puffs of smoke and charred remains were noted indicating that the waste was or had been burning and the fire service was called. They recommended splitting the waste into 3 piles to create fire breaks.
On 18 December 2013 methane was detected coming from the waste and water samples taken from ditches leading to a surface water drain and then the River Witham had high levels of ammonia.
In mitigation for Dixon, Mr Cramner-Brown said, Dixon was trying to save the family business from failing and took his eye off the ball.
After the hearing investigating officer Peter Stark said:
Dixon and his company were given every opportunity to comply with their permit and planning conditions and operate a business legitimately.
He provided assurances that action would be taken to remove waste from the site and activities would be compliant with the waste regulations, these were hollow promises and his legacy to the City of Lincoln will be remembered for the wrong reasons.
The Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council will not tolerate poor compliance and a disregard for the regulations, planning conditions and the environment. Working together we will continue to use all our powers to ensure the environment and communities are protected and legitimate businesses can operate without unfair competition.
Note: Dixon was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 2 years and 200 hours unpaid work on each of 2 Environment Agency charges to run concurrently. There was no separate penalty for the Lincolnshire County Council offences.