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AWM's £200,000 bill for odour offences

Associated Waste Management (AWM) has been fined a total of £125,000 for odour pollution breaches at waste transfer facilities in Leeds and Bradford.

AWM, which had previously admitted two offences relating to facilities in Gelderd Road, Leeds, and Canal Road, Bradford, was fined £75,000 for the Leeds offence and £50,000 for the Bradford offence. It was also ordered to pay £75,000 costs.

The Environment Agency (EA) told Leeds Crown Court that the Leeds site had odour problems between June 2012 and October 2013, during which time EA officers carried out around 75 assessments. Most of these recorded smells considered likely to cause offence to human senses.

The EA suspended the company’s permit for the Leeds facility temporarily while an acceptable odour management plan was formulated. 

AWM has subsequently told MRW that a notice of intention to suspend on the 4 October 2013 was withdrawn three weeks later.

A statement said: ”The licence was clearly not suspended and we continued to operate as normal. We had already taken steps to remedy the problem and felt that the EA reaction was premature, confirmed by their withdrawal of the intended action later that month.”

Between March and July 2013, local residents registered 49 separate complaints. An EA inspection revealed that shutters on a tipping shed used by bin wagons were not being closed, allowing the smell of rotting waste to leave the site.

An enforcement notice calling for improved odour management was issued and, three months later, a new plan was approved.

According to the EA, the company told the court that it had relied on an external company regarding odour suppression equipment, which had not worked.

The AWM statement after the case also said: ”As part of our plea and defence we had submitted bundles of evidence in relation to our mitigation measures and the significant costs attached over the years which amounted to millions. The court accepted that we had some time ago effectively fixed the earlier problems which had arisen through nuisance from handling municipal solid waste and not industrial and commercial waste at the MRFs in question.

”The EA guidance came into effect throughout 2012 and AWM had been granted licences earlier than this, not requiring such stringent measures. The EA had sought a higher tariff of fine amounting to reckless behaviour for not heeding advice and not taking reasonable steps soon enough etc. The judge, however, found in our favour of a lower tariff as AWM had shown remorse. But had, under the sentencing guidelines, fined us for the duration of the nuisance having taken the household witness statements into consideration.”

 

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