Lenient rulings on illegal waste dumping disappoint Environment Agency

The Environment Agency expressed surprise and disappointment when three family members were fined just £750 for offences involving the operation of an unlicensed landfill site and waste station at Barry, Wales.

The case, heard at Cardiff Crown Court, concerned thousands of tonnes of waste from building sites and skips that had been disposed of at Gilbert Gardens Nursery and Paving Centre Ltd from 1999.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Robert Stanley James, of Gilbert Gardens, Cadoxton, was fined £75 on each of seven offences; his son Simon Craig James, of the same address, was fined £75 on each of two offences and his daughter Nicola Louise Alger, of the same address, was fined £75 for one offence.

Gilbert Gardens Nursery and Paving Centre Ltd, where Ms Alger is a director and Simon Craig James was a former company secretary, was fined £10 on each of a further eight offences under the same Act.

The Environment Agency said that if waste had been deposited legally at a licensed site the charge would have been £5 to £10 per tonne. It also pointed to higher waste fines typically imposed, where the average fine in Wales in the last year has been around £2,000.

The court said the defendants’ inability to pay and the lack of environmental damage caused dictated the extent of the fine. The case was complicated by the fact that first Robert Stanley James and then the company registered an exemption from waste licensing regulations with the Agency. This was for tipping hardcore, rock and other materials in a given areas for the purpose of constructing a temporary roadway. However, the temporary roadway was never constructed, and tipping continued outside the exempt areas.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to convict these defendants but we feel the fines don’t reflect the seriousness of the crimes,” an Agency spokesperson told edie. “The maximum penalty for these kinds of offences in the Crown Court is a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or an unlimited fine or both for each offence. In this instance people are profiting from breaking the law.”

Earlier this year a man was sentenced to six months in prison for illegal dumping without a waste management licence (see related story), by Newport Crown Court.

Illegal tipping of waste can be reported to the Environment Agency Wales’ free, 24 hour emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

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