Waste business SITA UK has been fined £110,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,832 for breaching the conditions of the environmental permit for its landfill site at Albury, near Guildford.
Redhill Magistrates’ Court heard how the site, a former sand quarry, throughout 2013 breached the leachate levels set out in its environmental permit. Leachate is the liquid that forms when waste degrades in landfill. To reduce the risk of it escaping and polluting the groundwater Albury landfill is lined with an engineered system of clay overlain by a plastic liner. The clay extends across the base of each cell in the landfill structure and up the side slope to a level of 3m above, with only the plastic liner rising higher. The court heard that during 2013 there were eight leachate wells at the site that did not comply with the permit requirement for a maximum leachate level of 3m above the base.
It was also told that SITA continued to breach its permit conditions despite ongoing guidance and support from officers at the Environment Agency. Pollution prevention and control officer Neil Martin said it took SITA until February 2014 to comply with permit for leachate levels at Albury. The company reduced levels by supplementing treatment through the onsite leachate treatment plant by taking the leachate off site in tankers for treatment elsewhere. “The company is now continuing to focus on completing the capping and restoration of the landfill, which will help reduce the generation of leachate at the site,” Martin said.
SITA UK was prosecuted under reg. 38(1) (b) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.