A father and son from Dewsbury have been jailed for running an illegal waste operation in West Yorkshire.
Roy Hinchcliffe, aged 70, of Greenside Road, Dewsbury, and his son Neil Hinchcliffe, aged 50, of West Vale, Dewsbury admitted all charges against them and were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court.
Roy Hinchcliffe, was sentenced to two years in prison and Neil was jailed for 16 months.
Sentencing them, Judge Jim Spencer QC told the pair that they had a prolonged and cynical disregard for regulations designed to protect the environment.
The case was brought against the Hinchcliffes by the Environment Agency which told the court that Neil Hinchcliffe was director of a company called Forge Plant Ltd, which has since gone into liquidation. Roy Hinchcliffe had day to day control of the sites.
Ms Diana Maudslay, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, said that Roy Hinchcliffe was charged with offences related to three illegal waste sites – at Ravenswharfe Road, Scout Hill in Dewsbury, Forge Lane in Dewsbury and at Old Water Works in Healey Road, Ossett. His son was charged with offences relating to the land at Forge Lane only.
Ms Maudslay said half of the Scout Hill site was permitted by the Environment Agency to hold waste but under the regulations, Roy Hinchcliffe could not store more than 700 tonnes at any one time.
When officers visited the site in September, 2008, the court heard that officers estimated the total weight of waste to be around 1,498 tonnes. Despite numerous visits by the Environment Agency, Roy Hinchcliffe failed to bring the waste under its permitted level and on February 1, 2010 he was served with a notice suspending activity at the site.
The court heard that six days later – on 7 February, 2010, there was a large fire at the Scout Hill site.
Ms Maudslay told the court that land at the Old Water Works in Healey Road, Ossett had no permit in place from the Environment Agency. In February 2008, an Environment Agency officer saw a pile of wooden pallets stored several metres high and informed Roy Hinchcliffe that he needed permission from the Environment Agency to do this.
During further visits, officers saw large amounts of waste wood being dumped alongside mixed waste and on one visit, they saw the waste was on fire.
Ms Maudslay told the court that at Forge Lane, Forge Plant Ltd only had a very limited permission on this site, which did not allow them to operate a waste operation.
In November 2008 Environment Agency officers attended the site and saw a burning pile of waste containing metal, plastic and rubble which Neil Hinchcliffe was trying to put out using a bulldozer.
The court heard that Neil told officers the site was run by Forge Plant Ltd and he was running the yard on behalf of his father Roy.
During subsequent visits in 2009, officers saw around 20 full skips which contained mixed waste including hazardous waste. The court heard that Neil Hinchcliffe told officers that he had repeatedly informed his father that the waste needed to be removed but surveillance footage showed skip lorries still bringing rubbish on to the land.
In mitigation, the pair were credited for having no convictions and pleading guilty at the first opportunity.
Speaking after the court case senior environmental crime officer for the Environment Agency, Paul Salter said: “This pair consistently ignored advice and enforcement action from the Environment Agency and despite regular inspections there was no attempt to decrease the waste at these sites.
“The fire at Scout Hill shows how dangerous waste storage can be if procedures and advice are not followed. The cost of fighting and clearing up the blaze cost more than £400,000 and this court case should serve as a warning to other waste operators who fail to take their responsibilities seriously.”