Zycko Ltd, based outside Cirencester, Gloucestershire, received the fine this week following a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency relating to a late night party in September, 2005 on land owned by the company’s chairman.

According to the EA 12 cars were stacked then set on fire and thick, toxic black smoke could be seen from miles away and drifted over the nearby village of Sherston.

The prosecution claimed that the company had ignored an earlier abatement notice issued by North Wiltshire Council following similar banger car burning at the site on August 9, 2004.

An Environment Agency officer attended the scene and was told that the land being used for the party was owned by Rory Sweet, the chairman of Zycko Limited, based at India House, the Mallards, Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

The officer saw several burning vehicles in various states of disrepair. Wiltshire Fire Brigade were already on site and said they would need many more appliances and breathing apparatus if they were to put the fire out.

It was decided that most of the hazardous materials, including plastics and tyres, had already been burnt, and there was little environmental benefit to tackling the blaze. When they returned the burnt out wrecks of the vehicles were still on the site.

Syan Ventom, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the magistrates one partygoer had to be taken away in an ambulance and treated for smoke inhalation at the 2004 event.

He said the company had shown a total disregard for the abatement notice issued to prevent a second race taking place.

“The event appears to have been held as corporate entertainment with the cars set alight after the race, some stacked up and burnt using straw bales and wood to get them going,” said Chris Povey for the Environment Agency.

“We found that between 50-60 cars were being used in the car derby. The burning had a marked impact on the air quality with a plume of black smoke enveloping the village of Sherston. This caused distress and inconvenience to the people living there.”

Zycko Limited was fined £124,000 and ordered to pay £4,158 costs by North West Wiltshire Magistrates at Chippenham after it pleaded guilty to four offences contrary to section 33 and 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Edie approached the company to give it the opportunity to put across its side of the story and was given the following statement.

“Zycko acknowledges its involvement in this case, but as Mr Sweet is appealing against the court’s decision we cannot pass any further comment at this time.”

Sam Bond

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