Press release

Waste firm ordered to pay more than £1.2m for waste offences

A London waste company has been ordered to pay more than £1.2m after pleading guilty to historical waste offences at Harrow Crown Court.

Powerday Plc, 1 of London and South East England’s biggest waste companies, was sentenced for offences relating to historical operations in relation to 2 separate cases, which saw more than 17,000 tonnes of waste deposited and stored illegally.

Fines were imposed amounting to £1 million and the company agreed to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £243,955.35 for the investigation and prosecution of the offences.

The first case was for a number of offences involving the receipt and storage of large quantities of hazardous waste at the company’s main operating site at Willesden, London in 2010.

The second case related to offences which occurred at a site operated by Aylesbury Mushroom Farms Ltd at Elmwood Farm, Black Bourton, Bampton, Oxfordshire in 2012 and involved the deposit of approximately 3,000 tonnes of non-hazardous trommel fines originating from the Willesden site.

Powerday Plc had previously admitted its guilt to the offences in relation to both sites.

The offences at the Willesden site involved approximately 14,500 tons of hazardous waste (including construction and demolition waste containing asbestos, contaminated concrete and treated wood) that was taken to the company’s Willesden transfer station from development sites in London and from a power station in Nottinghamshire.

There had been a previous hearing at Harrow Crown Court during which the company had argued that it was legally entitled to store more than 10 tonnes of certain types of hazardous waste at the Willesden site in accordance with its interpretation of the permit. However, following legal argument, HHJ Barklem ruled in favour of the Environment Agency and found that the permit did not allow the company to store more than 10 tonnes of such hazardous wastes at any one time at its Willesden site.

The Oxfordshire case had been transferred to Harrow Crown Court to be sentenced at the same time as the Willesden case. Powerday had previously agreed in court to remove at its own cost the 3,000 tons of waste deposited at Elmwood Farm, and this removal had been completed in 2015. The waste had been deposited with the permission of the operator of the farm, but not in accordance with any relevant environmental permit or registered exemption.

Four other offenders, including the owner of the farm, had been previously sentenced for offences relating to the same operation at Oxford Crown Court (and in respect of 1 offender, at the local Magistrates’ Court).

Counsel for the company informed the court that the cases were now several years in the past, that the company had corrected and improved its systems and procedures, and that it had now developed excellent working relations with the regulator, the Environment Agency. The company and its managing director had apologised to the court for the historic failures which had given rise to the offences.

The Environment Agency takes tough action against illegal activity and will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those involved in waste crime. Illegal waste activity undermines other legitimately run businesses and puts the public and environment at risk. The Environment Agency urges anyone who suspects illegal activity to report it on the environmental incident hotline or Crimestoppers.

Notes to editors: • With the concurrence of Powerday Plc, through their counsel, the company was fined on Monday 11 April 2016 by HHJ Barklem as follows:

In relation to the Willesden operation:

  1. £350,000 for failing to comply with its environmental permit between the 31st December 2009 and the 6th of April 2010 in that it stored more than 10 tonnes of hazardous waste at the Willesden site for disposal – contrary to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (whereby that sum represented an agreed amount of financial benefit arising from the offences at the Willesden site).
  2. £350,000 for a similar offence with respect to the dates 6th April to 1st January 2011.
  3. £200,000 for treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health – contrary to section 33(1)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  4. In addition, no separate penalty was imposed in respect of 1 admitted breach of the duty of care provisions under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and 1 admitted breach of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 1990.

In relation to the Aylesbury Mushroom Farm operation:

  1. £100,000 for the offence of depositing controlled waste at Elmwood Farm otherwise than in accordance with an environmental permit – contrary section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  2. No separate penalty was imposed in respect of 1 admitted breach of the duty of care provisions under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Published 13 April 2016