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Thames region west tops £1 million of fines

The Environment Agency’s (EAs) Thames region west area has reached a milestone in its mission to stamp out waste crime by topping the £1 million mark for fines handed out.

The director of an illegal waste transfer station in Theale, Berkshire was the recipient of the fine which took the area past the figure.

Environmental crime officer Rod Gould said: “Increasingly we are going after the individuals behind waste crime to drive the message home and we are seeing jail sentences increasingly used by the courts. These people are in business to make a profit at the expense of the environment and your health. They can now expect empty bank accounts and a sentence behind bars.”

Since 1998, almost a third of the £1 million has been accrued in the last year from the area that stretches from Cheltenham and Wycombe and from Banbury to Newbury. The latest offender is Hugh O’Donnell, 49, director of both Reading Skips and Abbey Reading Skips.

After receiving fines totalling £20,000 in 2004 for burning 200 tonnes of material, continued bad practice has brought a further fine of £6,000 and a twelve month prison sentence.

Reading Skips featured in the EAs annual spotlight report in 2004 as the operator of one of the worst sites in the country. The report highlights the good and poor environmental performance of businesses in England and Wales.

EA area manager Craig Woolhouse said: “Reaching the £1 million mark for fines is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the area operational teams supported by their specialist environmental crime team and legal department.
“However, it also demonstrates the size of the task ahead. We will continue to focus on the big, bad and nasty operators to ensure these companies either shape up or are shut down.”

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