Illegal waste site leads to prison and £314,000 compensation

4th July 2019


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The illegal storage of more than 5,300 tonnes of mixed waste at a site in Cambridgeshire has resulted in jail for one man, a suspended prison sentence for another and a company ordered to pay more than £300,000 in compensation.

The illegal storage of more than 5,300 tonnes of mixed waste at a site in Cambridgeshire has resulted in jail for one man, a suspended prison sentence for another and a company ordered to pay more than £300,000 in compensation.

James Mervyn Williams was sentenced to 12 months in prison for his part in setting up the site, while Christopher Kerr was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years. Biowood Recycling Limited, which organised deliveries of waste to the site, was fined £12,690 and ordered to pay £314,426 compensation to the landowner who paid to clear the waste.

In August 2014, Kerr leased a site on part of an old airfield, telling the landowner it would be used to process timber. The Environment Agency found it was operating illegally; officers found wood stacked four metres high and falling into hedgerows. A fire risk was posed, resulting in an Emergency Fire Plan being drawn up.

Kerr had registered a waste exemption, limiting the amount of waste in any seven-day period to 500 tonnes. However, around 1,000 tonnes were being delivered weekly. He told Agency officers that he was running the site on behalf of Williams, and had no real involvement in it, but it was shown he had set up a business account and £116,638 had been transferred into it by Williams. Kerr pleaded guilty to breaching the Environmental Permit Regulations.

Williams ran a similar site and decided his company would broker all the waste to CGK Recycling – but it did not have enough customers to supply the site, so he used the services of another waste broker, Biowood Recycling Ltd. Williams pleaded guilty to knowingly causing the waste operation without an environmental permit. Williams and Biowood also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with their statutory duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to prevent a waste offence.

Image credit: iStock

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