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EA warns landowners about costs of waste crime

A Sunderland-based firm has been ordered to pay more than £14,700 for its part in the illegal dumping of 585 tonnes of waste as the Environment Agency (EA) revealed that dumped baled waste has cost land and property owners in the north-east an estimated £750,000 in the past year.

The latest EA prosecution following dumping came at Sunderland Magistrates Court when Thompson Waste admitted failing to comply with duty of care legislation.

Thompson Waste was fined £3,335 and ordered to pay compensation of £5,394 and costs of £6,000.

The court was told that a proportion of the 585 tonnes of mixed waste, dumped illegally in a disused factory warehouse at Pallion, could be traced back to Thompson Waste. It cost the landlords of the site more than £100,000 to clear up lawfully.

Between September 2015 and January 2016, Thompson Waste paid a local man below market rates to remove waste from its site without checking it was being taken to a permitted destination. The paperwork failed to include required details such as the origin of the waste or an accurate description.

In mitigation, the court was told that the waste represented a tiny fraction of the company’s business and it had co-operated with the investigation. A trial involving other defendants allegedly linked to the illegal waste dumping in Pallion is set to take place next year.

The EA says there have been 11 separate incidents in the past year of criminals making large-scale dumps of baled waste on farms, industrial units and on a roadside in the region.

The EA’s £750,000 figure refers to the approximate cost of disposing of the waste. It relates to the cost of lawful removal of waste from fields and empty commercial properties, and said it would be higher if land was contaminated or insurance premiums rose as a result.

Jamie Fletcher, EA area manager, said: “Waste criminals operate throughout the country, offering to remove waste cheaply and then dumping it in fields or empty warehouses.

“They tend to move to new areas as enforcement agencies become wise to their activities. We know it’s only a matter of time before they target us again, so we’re sending out a strong message: waste criminals are not welcome here and we’re doing everything in our power to deter and catch them.”

Land and property owners are advised to:

  • Check empty land and property regularly and make sure it is secure
  • Carry out rigorous checks on prospective and new tenants. Land and property owners have a responsibility to ensure anyone leasing their land/property complies with regulations
  • Be vigilant and report any unusual behaviour

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