The company, 3C Waste, was fined £35,000 plus £11,000 costs to the Environment Agency (EA) after pleading guilty to breaking the conditions of its waste management licences at its Arpley landfill site in Warrington.

Under the terms of its waste management licence, 3C Waste must cover working areas of the site as with at least 15cm of inert material to prevent waste blowing about and odours escaping from the site. The company must also prevent landfill gas from escaping in an “uncontrolled manner” from the site and levels of leachate must be kept down to less than one metre.

The case was brought against 3C Waste after an EA Environment Protection Officer received a complaint about a smell of landfill gas in the area. Upon visiting the site, the officer found the landfill had not been covered as specified in the condition, and birds were feeding on the waste. He also saw landfill gas vapour rising, and discovered pipework designed to collect the gas was disconnected, allowing it to escape uncontrolled.

The EA had been concerned for some time about leachate levels at Arpley, which were not being kept below the one metre maximum. The Agency had served a notice requiring 3C Waste to pump out excess leachate to reduce levels to below one metre, but monitoring data revealed that levels had remained consistently above this level.

The court was also told that in September 1999, the Agency had issued a further notice suspending the disposal of liquid wastes at the site.

Imposing sentence, the Magistrate stated that the site was unsightly and this had led to unpleasant conditions and odour, as shown by the number of substantiated complaints, such that there was clearly potential for harm to the environment. He added that although the company had not been obstructive, it was clear that there had been sloppy management and failure to heed warnings issued by the Environment Agency. The Magistrate also commented that the company had clearly profited from the site but was spending sums of money to rectify the problems and save its licence.

EA Environment Protection Manager, Roger Lamming, said after the hearing: “We are pleased with this result and hope that it sends a clear signal that we expect operators to comply with their licence conditions.”

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