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Countrystyle fined for illegal waste dumps

Waste firms in Kent have been fined more than £200,000 for illegally depositing waste on golf courses and farms.

Countrystyle Recycling, FGS AGRI and the owner and director of both companies Trevor Heathcote pleaded guilty to multiple charges relating to dumping the waste.

Canterbury Magistrates’ Court was told that Countrystyle vehicles had been identified tipping screening fines – produced from waste processing – on a driving range and an inert landfill in 2010 with paperwork wrongly identifying the waste as soil.

The Environment Agency found several other instances of fines being removed from Countrystyle’s site without correct paperwork and without the correct rate being paid for disposal.

An EA statement said: “Heathcote oversaw 29 lorry loads of screening fines to be moved from the Strood Waste Transfer Station to his farm and the operating base for his agricultural contracting firm FGS AGRI Limited at Stanford Bridge Farm, Pluckley, Kent.

The waste, wrongly described as aggregate, was deposited on the farm.  FGS AGRI had a registered exemption to import waste for use in construction, but fines were not allowed.

EA analysis showed the waste could pollute the ground and watercourse.

Legitimate disposal of the waste would have cost up to £30 per lorry load.

Jamie Hamilton, EA investigating officer, said: “The Environment Agency will not tolerate large waste companies failing in their Duty of Care, manipulating their paperwork or illegally depositing polluting waste for financial gain.

“Waste crime puts the environment and human health at risk and undermines legitimate businesses. The waste industry is well aware of its responsibilities with regards to the disposal of waste screening fines. Companies that subsequently make the decision to use sites such as golf courses, farms and inappropriate waste sites for the cheap disposal of such waste should not be surprised when they are prosecuted.”

The defence said Heathcote would undertake training and the firms would strengthen procedures.

Trevor Heathcote, director and owner of Countrystyle Recycling Limited and FGS AGRI Limited, was fined £86,000, required to pay £15,000 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Countryside Recycling Limited was fined £46,000, required to pay costs of £7500 and a £15 victim surcharge.

FGS AGRI Limited was fined £40,000, required to pay £7500 and a £15 victim surcharge.

At a previous court case at Chatham Magistrates Court, Mark Luck hauliers was fined £26,700 for one section 33 EPA 90 charge, required to pay costs of £4910 and a victim surcharge in relation to depositing screening fines from Countrystyle’s sites using fraudulent Duty of Care notes.

In a joint statement Countrystyle Recycling, FGS Agri and Heathcote said they were “committed to operating to high standards in order to ensure the continued protection of the environment”.

“All parties regret and apologise for the misinterpretation of an existing exemption and failure to follow internal protocols, which led to this prosecution.

“All parties involved fully co-operated with the Environment Agency throughout its investigation and we would like to stress that this was an isolated case that the Environment Agency acknowledged did not cause any environmental damage.

“It is also relevant to note that these are the first such offences brought against the parties. Improvements continue to be made to Countrystyle Recycling Limited and FGS Agri Limited’s operational protocols and procedures to reflect their status as the leading independent operators in both the resource management and agricultural contracting markets.”

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