Illegal wood burning caught on camera

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Two skip companies repeatedly supplied wood to an illegal wood burning site.

The Environment Agency had the site in Upminster, Essex under surveillance for several days in January 2012.

Yesterday (Thurs) the man responsible for burning the waste, landowner Kevin Harding was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards costs of £1000, both based on his means, after pleading guilty to operating the illegal waste site.

Modern Skips Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,600 costs for taking waste to an illegal site. Excel Skip Hire Ltd was fined £5,000 plus £2,300 costs for a similar offence. Both companies pleaded guilty.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that the site had no environmental permit to take waste or no relevant exemption for sorting wood that was taken there.

Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Agency, said investigators witnessed in January through footage at least 18 lorry loads of wood being dumped at the site before going onto the land with police to investigate further. They found varnished and painted wood as well as chipboard in piles near the fire. A massive ash pile about 161m3 was riddled with pieces of metal.

“Taking waste to the site seems to have been commonplace. Both Modern Skips and Excel Skip Hire are registered waste carriers and were aware of the need to manage waste properly,” she said.

“The activities were financially motivated. The skip companies saved the cost of lawful disposal and Harding was paid to take the waste without the cost of ensuring the site was fit for purpose and properly permitted.”

Agency officers also found skips on the land off Clay Tye Road in Upminster. They contained charred scrap metal, tyre rims, wood, green waste, cables and burned tyres.

Harding told investigating officers he allowed people to bring waste wood to his farm but did not know it was illegal to burn it. He said he did not charge them for dumping the waste there but had an honesty box. Both skip companies denied paying to take waste to the farm.

In mitigation Mr Harding said he got carried away with the £10 a load payment for receiving the wood.

Mr James Hodivala representing Excel skip Hire said the company deposited 8 loads over one week. He said the company believed it only save about £800.

Mr Pope representing Modern Skips said there were a minimum of 11 loads.

After the hearing Environment Agency spokesperson Lesley Robertson said burning chipboard and treated wood could release harmful toxins into the air.

“We are working hard to stop this type of illegal waste operation.

“Illegal sites can cause serious pollution incidents, bad smells, chemical spills, blight on the landscape, and misery for surrounding communities. Sites that covertly hold hazardous waste and chemicals without safeguards are breaking the law and risk causing serious pollution incidents that damage rivers, habitats and pose a risk to human health. It also undermines legitimate business.

Kevin Harding pleaded guilty to:

Between 13 November 2011 and 18 May 2012 on land off Clay Tye Road, Upminster, Essex you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storage, treatment and disposal of waste by burning, 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

Modern Skips Ltd pleaded guilty to:

Between 13 November 2011 and 18 May 2012, on land off Clay Tye Road, Upminster, Essex, you did deposit controlled waste, when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the regulator pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 authorising the said deposit.

Contrary to section 33(1)(a) and section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Excel Skip Hire Ltd pleaded guilty to:

Between 8 January 2012 and 14 January 2012, on land off Clay Tye Road, Upminster, Essex, you did deposit controlled waste, when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the regulator pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 authorising the said deposit.

Contrary to section 33(1)(a) and section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

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