Man imprisoned for illegal waste disposal

Newport Crown Court has sentenced a man to six month’s imprisonment for knowingly keeping controlled waste materials without a waste management licence.

Kenneth Richards from Newport, who formerly traded as Cwmbran Skip Hire, was found to have saved £285,000 in waste disposal charges by dumping around 3,000 tonnes of waste on land that he rented at Western Industrial Estate, Ponthir. The site had been almost completely filled with a variety of household and commercial waste from the skip hire firm.

The Environment Agency began an investigation into Richard’s activities in July 2000. Despite previous enforcement action against him, including £800 in fines and 28 days imprisonment, photographic evidence showed that the quantity of waste at the site had doubled since a visit by Environment Agency officers in March 1999. Richards subsequently abandoned the site, sold his company skip vehicles and left the landowner with the liability.

“Currently, the landowner is attempting to clear the waste from the site and is seeking to reclaim the costs via civil action through the courts,” an Environment Agency Wales spokesman told edie.

Passing sentence on Richards, Mr Recorder Treverton-Jones QC said: “The purpose of the legislation is to protect the environment and your flouting of the law is so serious that only a custodial sentence will suffice in this case. This is a serious offence which you carried out in a deliberate and systematic manner.”

After the case, the Environment Agency criticised Richards for his total disregard for the environment and for the legacy of his actions. “His only interest was in obtaining the financial benefits associated with his skip hire operations and to leave someone else with the burden of clearing the site,” said an Agency spokesman. “We are pleased that the courts have passed a custodial sentence in recognition of the serious nature of these offences. We hope that this will act as a deterrent to other like persons within the waste management industry.”

The Environment Agency is urging anyone that witnesses illegal tipping of waste to phone the organisation’s free and confidential 24 hour emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

Other successful legal action this week has included a £65,000 fine for Thames Water Utilities for causing sewage to enter the grounds of properties in Surrey. The company also received a further fine of £20,000 for polluting a river in the area.

For a number of years residents in Earlswood, Redhill, had experienced sewage flooding in their gardens at times of heavy rainfall. The effluent was usually several inches deep and left a slimy, smelly deposit in which pieces of toilet paper were visible. On three occasions in particular, there were complaints that the effluent was getting into heating ducts, causing a smell and staining carpets in the properties. It was impossible for residents to use toilets and washing machines, and one resident was unable to use the shower as sewage came up into the shower tray.

Despite the nature of the flooding, little or no action was forthcoming from Thames Water in response to complaints. The company was reluctant to accept responsibility and stated that the pumping station seemed to be operating correctly.

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