The fine was in response to an incident at the Joint Stocks Quarry at Kelloe, Durham, after a case was brought by the Environment Agency. In court prosecutor Ben Reid explained how on April 13 2006 litter escaped from the facility but was not cleared up by the end of the day, contravening Premiers waste management licence.
Environment Agency representatives attended the site at 1.50pm and found a large quantity of litter caught in trees and shrubs adjacent to the waste facility. Officers could not see any staff attempting to retrieve the rubbish and when they returned at 7.30pm there were still plastic bags in fields.
A spokesman for Premier, which describes itself as the largest independent waste management company in the north east, said that after monitoring wind speeds managers had decided it was safe to open, but as wind speeds increased the site was subsequently closed. Two people had been employed to retrieve escaped litter that day and since the incident the firm had bought an electronic weather station and installed a wind-proof bay.
The court judged that the company had breached the terms of its waste management licence, contrary to section 33(6) of the Environment Protection Act 1990.
Helen Courtney, environment officer at the Environment Agency said: Conditions of a waste management licence are there to protect the environment and must be adhered to. When they are broken we take it very seriously.