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Heavy fine for fire-hit firm

Sleaford-based Mid UK Recycling has been heavily fined for a 2015 fire at one of its sites.

Lincoln Crown Court sentenced the company to fines totalling £100,000, costs of £50,000 and compensation to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service of the £230,000 cost of dealing with the incident.

The landowner, sister company MC Mountain & Son, and director Mowbray Christopher Mountain were also charged but had no separate penalties imposed on them.

The defendants pleaded guilty to five charges for breaching planning and environmental legislation in a prosecution brought by Lincolnshire County Council and the Environment Agency (EA) for illegal waste storage at a recycling facility at Barkston Heath, Ancaster.

A council statement said that, as a direct result of this storage, a serious fire occurred in July 2015 due to spontaneous combustion. It required fire brigade attendance for a week, closure of nearby roads for several days and residents had to be warned to keep windows and doors closed.

Eddy Poll, council executive member for commercial and environmental management, said: “The residents of Lincolnshire should not have to pay for emergency services attending the consequences of waste crime, and I am pleased that we have fully recovered all these costs.

“I trust this case sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate environmental and planning crime in this county and we will always seek to recover the council’s costs where action is taken.”

EA area director for Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire Norman Robinson said that Mid UK Recycling “repeatedly failed to comply with requests from our officers to implement and comply with fire prevention guidance”.

The council said that in April 2014, the company was storing thousands of tonnes of waste around the site contrary to planning rules and in places more than 10m high. There was also a stockpile of several hundred tonnes of unbaled carpets piled up to around 6m without appropriate fire breaks.

Mid UK did not remove the waste and the council served an enforcement notice in July 2014, with which it not comply.

Chris Mountain, Mid UK Recycling managing director, said: “We are extremely sorry this fire occurred and, while there were mitigating circumstances at the time, including the cancellation of several shipments of refuse-derived fuel which increased our stock on-site, we do understand there were actions that could have been taken which may have prevented the fire occurring.

“We are a company which strives to operate in a safe and professional manner at all times, and it is therefore even more devastating to us that an incident like this occurred.”

Mountain said that, since the fire, the company had made changes and had a bespoke fire prevention plan from the EA. Changes included installing sprinkler systems at Barkston Heath with a 55,000-litre water tank, fire suppression equipment and a new fire alarm system.

 

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