A truck company and one of its directors have been fined a total of £48,000 for using an unauthorised site to store waste and scrap vehicles.
VJ Commercials and director Ohanis John Manoukian were also ordered to pay a combined £17,000 towards prosecution costs after pleading guilty to offences related to the use of land at Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate in Norfolk.
While the firm was licensed to break vehicles at the industrial estate, prosecutors said it had run out of legal space for its operations and had allowed vehicles to be stored on overspill sites for “at least 12 months”, causing land to be contaminated.
Norwich Crown Court heard Manoukian had told investigators that clearing the unauthorised sites would have led to the closure of the business.
Judge Katharine Moore said a “calculated commercial decision” to break the law had been taken that coincided with the falling price of scrap metal on the overseas market.
“A significant aggravating feature is the wilful and persistent refusal to heed advice, guidance, warning and statutory notice,” she said. “I unhesitatingly take the view that the breach was deliberate and for financial gain.”
The judge said VJ Commercials and Manoukian had been given credit for guilty pleas in relation to offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010. She said the site was now lawfully operated under a permit.
VJ Commercials was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 towards its prosecution costs. Manoukian was fined £24,000 with £4,000 costs, and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.
After the hearing, environment officer Jack Colman said the Environment Agency had tried to help the company comply with the law but its advice had been ignored.