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£45,000 bill for 'trying to pass the buck' on waste disposal

A £45,000 bill in fines and costs has been slapped on two Essex companies that subcontracted disposal of waste which ended up being fly-tipped.

A Colchester plant nursery paid Walsh & Sons, of West Horndon, Brentwood, £25,000 to clear his site. Walsh & Sons said it subcontracted the work to Calahans Cleaning Services, of Standford Le Hope.

But there was no written contract and neither company complied with its statutory duty of care. The waste ended up being illegally dumped across two sites at Lodge Farm in Great Horkesley and outside a unit in Axial Way, Colchester.

Both companies pleaded guilty and apologised.

Sarah Dunne, prosecuting for the Environment Agency (EA), told Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court: “The quantity of fly-tipped material was large and ugly and affected two locations.

“Both defendants failed to exercise their statutory duty of care and the waste was dumped as a result of these failures.”

EA officer Sarah Frost explained after the court case: “The duty of care cannot simply be delegated to another company. There is a duty to check how the next waste holder in the chain will handle the waste and where the waste’s journey will end.”

Presiding magistrate Simon Phillips ordered Walsh & Sons to pay a fine of £33,500, costs of £2,924.26 and a victim surcharge of £170, and said the company had displayed a “high degree of negligence”.

Calahans Cleaning Services was ordered to pay a £6,000 fine, with costs of £2,924.26 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Calahans told the court it had hired a skip company to take the waste. But the court was told the firm failed in its duty of care to check if the skip company was registered to carry waste, ask where the waste would be taken or complete any transfer of waste papers.

Failure to complete and retain waste transfer notes made it impossible for the fly-tippers to be traced.

Dunne told the court that Nick Walsh, director of Walsh & Sons, had acted “with integrity” once he found out about the fly-tipping and arranged for the waste to be cleared within nine hours.

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