Big environment fines – Biffa fined half a million for illegal waste tipping
Biffa has been fined for exporting banned waste after an Environment Agency investigation. The fine, totalling £599,912, has been levied for breaching waste exports regulations. Back in June they were found guilty after a three week trial, convicted of sending ‘waste paper’, to China from May-June 2015 when exporting UK unsorted household recycling waste to China is illegal. The fine was made up of £350,000 plus costs of £240,000 and £9,912 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The investigation found seven 25 tonne containers at Felixstowe Port, en route to China, marked as waste paper but actually dirty nappies, food packaging, clothing, bags of faeces, wood, tins, plastic bottles and electric cable. Biffa had also apparently illegally exported 42 containers of household waste to India and Indonesia between November 2018 and February 2019. It matters because illegal waste export ruins lives and environments abroad.
The court heard how Biffa used two brokers to arrange the export to Chinese paper mills in Shenzhen and Guang Dong. Biffa tried to claim that consignments leaving its Edmonton depot four years ago were legal because they were made up of waste paper.
All UK waste exports must comply with the Waste Shipments Regulation, a situation that will remain the same after Brexit.
Stiff environment Penalties – A £50,000 fine handed to Northern Compliance Ltd
Another big fine has been handed down, this time to a former Northumberland recycling business after it breached environmental regulations. The company didn’t pay for waste electrical electronic equipment collection and treatment, and had to hand over a stiff £54,365 in fines and compensation for ignoring their legal obligations.
The investigation by the Environment Agency found Northern Compliance Ltd and its director Vincent Francis Eckerman guilty of failing to pay for the cost of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment collection, treatment, recovery or disposal, even though Northern Compliance was actually an EA approved WEEE compliance scheme set up to help others meet the WEEE Regulations.
Director Vincent Eckerman said his business had missed WEEE collection targets because of a ‘perfect storm’ of supplier issues. But the prosecutor for the EA said Mr Eckerman had flagrantly disregarded the law, and his arguments were nothing but “smoke and mirrors”.
‘Outlaws’ from Robin Hood Ltd and LHC Asset Management Ltd imprisoned and fined
A couple of company directors from Bradford have been sentenced for illegal waste operations. Tejpal Sagoo was handed six months imprisonment suspended for two years and asked to do 250 hours of unpaid community work after illegally storing mixed household, commercial and industrial waste at the Robin Hood Group Ltd site in Bradford. He was also fined £2,400 in costs and given a Regulation 44 Notice to clear the offending waste within six months or face a contempt of court charge. His uncle Jarnail Bassan was fined £2,400 and asked to pay £200 a month for the role he and his since-dissolved company, LHC Asset Management Ltd, played.
The men stored more than 275 tonnes of waste at the site between January and March 2017 and never shipped it abroad as promised. Two years later, it’s still there. Environment Agency officers found hundreds of large bales of mixed waste stored on the site. The Judge said Bassan had been guided by his nephew and had been reckless. He told Sagoo that the entire operation was a sham, and that he’d shown “a continuous disregard for the environment” in his role as a “waste cowboy”.
As Paul Glasby, the Environment Agency’s investigating officer said, “This was a clear case of a rogue operator trying to circumnavigate environmental law for their own financial gain. This sentence sends out a strong message that the Environment Agency and Courts will hold businesses and individuals to account for harm to the environment.”
Get your environmental permitting house in order
Even a relatively small industrial pollution incident can cause damage to our environment. If you want to examine the risks and deal with them sensibly, get the environmental permitting side of things right and steer clear of trouble, we’ll be delighted to help you do exactly that.
David Cole MSEE
David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.