The Environment Agency has prosecuted a company operating a waste transfer station in London for breaking rules set out in its environmental permit, which aims to safeguard the local environment and human health.
Winters Haulage Limited (which stored and recycled waste at British Rail Sidings, Oakleigh Road South, Southgate, London) pleaded guilty to the offences today at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court and was fined £15,000, ordered to pay costs of £13,878.34 and a victim surcharge of £120. Winters Haulage Ltd no longer operates at the site.
The court heard how between June 2014 and January 2015, the company failed to comply with the conditions of its environment permit. During inspections, Environment Agency officers discovered an excessive quantity of waste on site which was being stored in the yard outside of the waste reception building. Officers also noted that the height of the waste exceeded the level allowed in the permit. The permit required waste to be stored in the building on site, to a limit of 2.5 metres in height. The waste stored in the yard included treated wood, plastics and soils.
Environment Agency officers provided repeated advice and guidance to help the company meet its permit requirements but the site failed to resolve the problems.
Environment Officer Ruth Shaw said:
It was clear from the site visits by Environment Agency officers that the company had breached its permit conditions. Storing waste in excess of the amount permitted and outside rather than inside the designated covered area increases the potential risk to the environment and human health.
Our main concern was dust emissions, as dust is created by the tipping and bulking of waste. Also, the stockpiling of combustible waste presents a fire risk. The greater the amount of waste, the more serious the fire. The site is located near local businesses and residential properties so action had to be taken.
In an interview under caution, Mark Winters (1 of 4 directors of the company) was interviewed on behalf of Winters Haulage Ltd. Mr Winters acknowledged that the company had breached its permit and that the company was eager to comply but a number of problems, including an arson attack on another site that they ran in Hitchin, Herts, had caused a backlog of waste.
Environment Officer Ruth Shaw added:
We always seek to work with companies to help them operate within the law and we could not have done more in this case. Although prosecution is the last resort, Winters Haulage Ltd left us with no choice but to take the matter to the courts. This shows how seriously we take these matters and demonstrates that we will not allow the environment to be put at risk as a consequence of not complying with our environmental permits.