Operators of a scrap metal yard have been fined £315,000 after an investigation revealed the site did not have the environmental permits to handle hazardous wastes from vehicles.
The fine is a record under the Proceeds of Crime Act for end-of-life vehicle crime.
David Peters and Tracey Noble pleaded guilty to not having the required environmental permits in place to operate a scrap metal yard at Ridge Farm, Lancaster. They were ordered to forfeit a forklift truck and an HGV belonging to the business, in addition to fines and costs amounting to £315,000. If the charges are not paid within six months, the defendants could face prison.
Lancashire Crown Prosecution Service crown advocate Robert Smith said: “This was a deliberate attempt by Peters and Noble to operate a scrap metal business illegally so that they could make as much money as possible in a short space of time, without having to keep to the regulations that apply to the waste management industry. As well as prosecuting them for this illegal operation, by charging them under the Proceeds of Crime Act, we are ensuring they cannot keep hold of the money they amassed in this way.”
Operation Blade, a joint working investigation between the Environment Agency and Lancashire Police to tackle illegal waste activity across the county, led to the prosecution. A site visit found hundreds of vehicles in various states of disrepair. It was not designed to handle hazardous wastes and liquids which come from vehicles; operated without a sealed drainage system; and vehicle parts were not stored on a suitably impermeable surface. As a result, the site could cause “significant” harm to the environment.
Lancashire Police Sgt Fraser Earnshaw said: “This result goes to prove that partner agencies will work together to relentlessly pursue those who are involved in organised crime so that we can bring them before the courts and obtain justice.”