Press release

Run(a)way business operated illegally for more money

A legally permitted vehicle breakers yard over-spilled onto unpermitted land at a disused Norfolk airfield leading to fines in court today.

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V J Commercials Ltd was fined £24,000 for each of 2 offences to run concurrently and ordered to pay £13,000 towards costs.

Ohanis John Manoukian, a director of the company, was given a 12 months community order to undertake 180 hours of unpaid work on each of 2 offences to run concurrently, fined £12,000 on each offence to run concurrently and ordered to pay £4,000 towards prosecution costs.

V J Commercials operates out of a unit at Shipdham Airfield which is permitted by the Environment Agency.

Mr Mark Watson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told Norwich Crown Court that when the company ran out of space at its permitted site it began to store waste on the runway at the airfield. There was no permit in place authorising this storage.

He said the company had avoided the costs of operating legitimately in order to maximize profits.

Ohanis John Manoukian (John) is a director of the company. “The company were aware that they were operating illegally and continued to do so for at least 12 months despite advice and guidance from the Environment Agency,” said Mr Watson.

Her Honour Judge Moore heard that the company used 3 sites at the airfield but was permitted for only 1.

John Manoukian was the site’s Technically Competent Manager yet when Environment Agency officers visited the airfield they saw scrap vehicles on the runway, numerous oil spills on the ground and vehicles leaking oil. Another unit at the airfield was also being used to illegally store waste prior to its disposal.

Despite numerous visits, advice and letters to stop activities, the business continued illegally.

Mr Watson told the court that V J Commercials had already been given advice and guidance in 2006 and 2011 about storing waste vehicles on land without an environmental permit.

John Manoukian told investigators that if he had cleared the runway site he would not have been able to continue with the business.

When sentencing the company and Mr Manoukian, Judge Moore said:

In my view it is no coincident that the amount of waste on the site increased as the price of scrap metal fell and the overseas market was left available. This was a calculated commercial decision.

A significant aggravating feature is the willful and persistent refusal to heed advice, guidance, warning and statutory notice. I unhesitatingly take the view that the breach was deliberate and for financial gain.

In mitigation she gave the defendants credit for guilty pleas and took into account there had been remediation and that the site is now lawfully operated under a permit.

After the hearing Environment Officer Jack Colman said:

The Environment Agency is committed to supporting legitimate waste businesses by taking enforcement action against those who operate illegally.

We tried to help the company comply with the law but our advice was ignored.

VJ Commercials Ltd:

  1. Between 26 August 2013 and 13 August 2014 on land known as the Runway, Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, Shipdham, Norfolk you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storage and treatment of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

  1. On or about 13 August 2014 on land known as Unit 4, Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, Shipdham, Norfolk you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit and storage of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

Ohanis John Manoukian

  1. Between 26 August 2013 and 13 August 2014 on land known as the Runway, Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, Shipdham, Norfolk, V J Commercials Ltd, with your consent, connivance or attributable to neglect on your part as a director of V J Commercials Ltd, did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storage and treatment of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a), 38(1)(a) and 41(1)(a) and (b) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

  1. On or about 13 August 2014 on land known as Unit 4, Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, Shipdham, Norfolk, V J Commercials Ltd, with your consent, connivance or attributable to neglect on your part as a director of V J Commercials Ltd, did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit and storage of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a), 38(1)(a) and 41(1)(a) and (b) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010

Published 2 October 2015