Chippenham Magistrates heard how the Environment Agency inspector saw rats running about freely before he was even out of his car when he visited the Trowbridge site run by E J Shanley & Son Ltd in May 2008.

No improvements were seen during a follow up visit two weeks later.

The officer said that in four years of inspecting waste transfer stations he had never seen so many rats moving freely about a site in broad daylight.

Further checks revealed that rats had colonised an earth bund and the company had made no attempt to control their numbers.

The site was also accepting far more waste than it was entitled to and this had caused handling and storage problems.

The site’s licence allowed it to accept 5,000 tonnes of waste in a year but in 2007 it had taken 13,500 tonnes.

The company pleaded guilty to five offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 including depositing waste outside a permitted area, failure to maintain tipping bay walls, exceeding the tonnage limit, failing to control rat infestation and allowing litter to escape from the site.

“The site was being run significantly below the standard expected and this was reflected in the number of permit breaches found during our visits,” said Chris Povey for the Environment Agency.

“Excessive quantities of waste were being brought to the site and this probably contributed to the deterioration in standards.”

It is the second time E J Shanley & Son (Trowbridge) Ltd has been prosecuted by the Environment Agency in the past year. In June 2008 the company was ordered to pay £41,813 in fines and costs for operating an illegal waste transfer station at a scrapyard in Warminster.

David Gibbs

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie