Balwant Singh Baghria, also known as ‘Bob’, was sentenced on Friday 11 July 2014 to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years and disqualified from being a company director for 7 years for his part in an illegal waste operation at Nelson Street and Parsonage Street, Oldbury, West Midlands. Confiscation proceedings and costs will be determined at a later date this year.
His co-defendants Ranbir Singh, also known as ‘Ravinder’ and ‘Nick’, Reginald Baldwin and Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Ltd were sentenced at an earlier hearing. Sentencing Balwant Baghria, His Honour Judge Walsh, said that the custody threshold was passed to a significant degree but he would suspend the sentence of imprisonment owing to his age and ill-health,
The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Counsel Mr Nicholas Cole told the Court that between the period July 2010 and July 2012, the defendants engaged in large scale, commercial tipping operations at two sites in Oldbury.
Substantial amounts of waste were deposited at ‘The Yard’, Nelson Street and ‘Butler’s Yard’, Parsonage Street in Oldbury. Initially, the site at Nelson Street, Oldbury, operated as a fully permitted facility with an environmental permit in place. However, over a period of time the site deposited and stored waste over and above the maximum storage capacities, to dangerous levels. In addition, waste was then deposited illegally on land opposite, known as Butler’s Yard, where there was no environmental permit in force.
Father and son Balwant Singh Baghria and Ranbir Singh operated both sites under the company name Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Ltd. When Ranbir Singh resigned as a director, Reginald Baldwin became the sole director of the company, although by this time the waste had been deposited at both sites.
Despite interventions from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Sandwell Planning Authority, operations continued. The service of a prohibition notice by the HSE in July 2011 and Stop Notices by Sandwell Planning Authority in March and December 2011 did not deter the defendants from continuing to deposit waste at both sites. Officers from the Environment Agency undertook a surveillance operation in order to gather evidence in support of a prosecution. Operations finally ceased when Ranbir Singh was arrested in July 2011.
The Environment Agency incurred costs of over £101,000 to clear some of the waste at Nelson Street to prevent damage being caused to a neighbouring business, due to the pressure of the waste pile on the wall of an adjacent building. Sandwell Planning Authority incurred costs of around £4,600 for clearing waste from the highway outside both sites.
The remaining waste at Nelson Street was removed by the landowner at a cost of approximately £35,000. Waste at Butler’s Yard, Parsonage Street remains in situ to this day. It has caused problems with odour, has attracted rats and has been infested with crickets which have caused nuisance to neighbouring businesses. The cost of removal is yet to be determined by estimates are between £320,000 and £1,000,000. The estimated volume of waste has been calculated at 6,000 cubic metres, weighing about 3,000 tonnes.
A timetable has been set in relation to confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in relation to the financial gain made by Balwant Singh Baghria and Ranbir Singh throughout the offending period. The benefit gained in respect of operating and disposal costs alone are calculated to be in the region of £230,000. Confiscation will be dealt with at a future Court hearing.
Speaking after the case, David Hudson, Environment Manager said:
In the past few months, we have seen a marked toughening in sentences passed by the Courts. Many have led to prison sentences. As well as causing nuisance to local residents these cases leave financial victims where landowners foot the bill for clearing the sites. We are increasingly using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to trace the money made by their illegal trade and to make polluters pay for their actions.
Waste crime information
For more information about the action we are taking to reduce waste crime, visit our website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wastecrime. We urge people to report waste crime on our Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Balwant Singh Baghria entered guilty pleas to:
Operating a regulated facility otherwise than under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit contrary to Regulations 12(1)(a), 38(1)(a) and 41 of the Environmental Permitting (England Wales) Regulations 2010 between 6/12/10 and 28/7/2011 at The Yard, Nelson Street, Oldbury
Treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health contrary to section 33(1)© (6) and 157 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 between 6/12/10 and 8/8/211 at The Yard, Nelson Street, Oldbury.
Operating a regulated facility otherwise than under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit contrary to Regulations 12(1)(a), 38(1)(a) and 41 of the Environmental Permitting (England Wales) Regulations 2010 between 6/12/10 and 28/7/2011 at Butlers Yard, Parsonage Street, Oldbury
Treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health contrary to section 33(1)© (6) and 157 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 between 6/12/10 and 27/7/2012 at Butlers Yard, Parsonage Street , Oldbury