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Arrest warrant issued for missing man in waste crime

An arrest warrant has been issued for a man jailed for 12 months in his absence for the illegal storage of more than 5,300 tonnes of mixed waste wood at a site in Great Staughton, Cambridgeshire.

Another man involved received a suspended prison term, while Biowood Recycling has been fined and ordered to pay more than £300,000 compensation for supplying wood to the site, although it was not involved in its operation.

James Mervyn Williams, of Solihull, was sentenced in his absence to 12 months in prison, while Christopher Kerr, of Birmingham, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years.

Biowood, which organised deliveries of waste to the site, was fined £12,690 and ordered to pay £314,426 compensation to the landowner who paid to clear the waste.

Kerr leased part of an old airfield and told the landowner the site would be used to process timber. Six weeks later the Environment Agency (EA) heard the site was operating illegally, and officers found wood stacked up to 4m high, with some falling into hedgerows and a ditch, and that a fire hazard existed (pictured).

Kerr registered a waste exemption for 500 tonnes of material in any seven-day period, but officers found that around 1,000 tonnes was taken there every week for five weeks.

He pleaded guilty to knowingly permitting the waste operation without a permit, contrary to the Environmental Permitting Regulations.

Williams pleaded guilty to knowingly causing the operation to run without a permit contrary to the Environmental Permitting Regulations.

Both men pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable measures as waste brokers to comply with their statutory duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to prevent a waste offence.

Judge Jonathan Cooper said Kerr “must have been wilfully blind to the risk of offending” and Biowood was “at least reckless with its dealings with the other two defendants”.

He accepted in mitigation that Kerr had no previous involvement in the waste industry and Biowood had no previous convictions, and had co-operated with the EA’s investigation.

An application to confiscate the money Williams gained from his crime will be decided at a later date. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

EA enforcement team leader Phil Henderson said: “The illegal and uncontrolled storage of combustible waste at this location gave considerable cause for concern to both local communities and the authorities alike, so we are pleased with the penalties imposed by the court.

“We pay tribute to the affected landowner who acted to remove the waste, minimising risk to the public, and via proceeds of crime legislation has now been rightly compensated.”


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