The Environment Agency (EA) has defended itself after taking almost five years to take action against an illegal metal recycler.
Karl Bowman was sentenced to 160 hours community service this month for scrapping cars without a waste management licence in Penrith, Cumbria.
He had been collecting old vehicles from the area for at least five years and breaking them up at Bowscar Quarry to sell as scrap.
The EA first told Bowman he needed a licence in 1999, but it has insisted it did the right thing by waiting until this summer to take him to court.
Although we are willing to prosecute people, we would much rather see them comply with legislation, said an EA spokesman.
We gave Bowman numerous chances to apply for a waste management licence but unfortunately he didnt so we had to prosecute him.
The EA spoke to Bowman, of Lakeland View, Penrith, in December 1999 and agreed to meet him in February 2000. At that meeting, he was given an application form for a waste management licence.
When the form was not received by that June, the EA served a notice on Bowman telling him to clear his site.
This notice was ignored so the EA met with him again in January 2001, leaving Bowman with another application form.
With no progress made by that December, Bowman was given four months to clear his site of scrap, which again he ignored.
The EA claims it made several attempts to contact Bowman during 2002 and 2003 but it did not visit the site until March 2004, when it found many vehicles being scrapped.
In June, Bowman met with the EA and admitted he had been running the scrapyard illegally and that he had received several application forms for a licence.
Meanwhile, a farmer in Wales has been fined £1,000 for holding more than 250 waste cars without a waste-management licence between February 2003 and March 2004.
Meredith Evans kept scrap components and other vehicle waste on his land at Maesyrhaf Farm in Capel Iwan.