Waste law breach costs skip boss £5k

a DIRECTOR of a skip hire company who showed “complete disregard” for waste regulations has been ordered to forfeit £5,600.

Neil Bland, of Meal Bridge Farm in Whalley Lane, Denholme, admitted two counts of operating Town and Country Skip Hire Ltd without an environmental permit.

Giles Bridge, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told a court that officers began undercover surveillance of the business in March 2009 as they suspected waste was being moved and stored illegally.

They saw wagons moving full skips of waste into the farm and leaving empty, as well as skips of rubble being moved off the farm.

Officers raided the site in May 2009, and Mr Bland was arrested. A search revealed piles of sorted waste, skips of metal and timber, cardboard and rubble. Hazardous electrical waste including a leaking car battery was also found.

When interviewed, Mr Bland accepted he had taken waste onto the farm without a permit - which he is unable to get as his farm is on green belt land.

He claimed he mainly did this at weekends when other facilities were closed to keep the skips moving, and said he had taken a gamble.

But he was caught out again in August 2010 when further surveillance was carried out and a yellow JCB was seen on site. Skips were being brought in and off-loaded and one was seen being emptied onto the ground.

Further observations were made a month later and the site was searched again. A skip on the back of one of the wagons was inspected and found to hold mixed waste.

When officers looked at the transfer notes, they showed it had been collected from commercial and domestic premises. Some skips had been taken to an authorised waste transfer station but some had gone to Meal Bridge Farm.

Bradford Crown Court was told Mr Bland has previous convictions for waste offences from 2008, but carried on his wrongdoing.

Sentencing him, Judge Rodney Grant said Mr Bland showed “complete disregard” for the regulations that prevent damage to the environment and danger to the public.

Mr Bland was ordered to pay back the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act after the court heard he gained financial advantage over law-abiding businesses by avoiding paying tipping fees. He faces three months in jail if he fails to pay.

He was also sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, with a 12-month supervision order and must carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. The company was fined £200, to be paid within 28 days.

The Environment Agency has also revoked his waste carriers licence.

Mark Parker, environmental crime officer with the agency, said: “This sentence sends out a strong message to operators that the Environment Agency will not tolerate illegal waste activities.

“We will use all the powers at our disposal to ensure that waste management businesses comply with the law.”