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Man fined after massive blaze destroys waste wood

A landowner who allowed two men to set up an illegal waste wood recycling business later destroyed by fire has been fined in an Environment Agency (EA) prosecution.

Anthony Joyner was ordered to pay a total of £12,850 in fines, costs and compensation at Exeter Crown Court after pleading guilty to knowingly permitting the keeping of controlled waste with no environmental permit, contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In 2015 Joyner leased part of Cockwells Nursery, near Totnes, to Steven Loveridge and David Weeks who ran it as Woody’s Recycling.

The EA said wood arrived but none ever left, resulting in a huge stockpile which ultimately caught fire.

Joyner in early 2016 locked the recycling centre after Loveridge was sent to prison for an unrelated offence.

Woody’s Recycling ceased trading, leaving some 10,000 tonnes of waste wood and 3,000 tree stumps at the site.

Joyner tried unsuccessfully to get anther recycling company to remove the wood, but it said the material had little or no commercial value and could cost up to £750,000 to shift.

On 16 May 2016, the EA heard from the fire service that it was tackling a ”massive” wood fire at Cockwells Nursery, which burned for five days and cost £28,000 to extinguish.

The EA said there was no audit trail for most of the waste wood at the nursery, but it obtained waste transfer notes from local companies that proved the site’s exemption limit of 1,000 tonnes had been exceeded.

EA officer Adrian Evans said: “This case is another example of the damage illegal waste sites can do to the environment. We need everyone to work together to prevent waste being mismanaged in this way.”

Loveridge and Weeks were sentenced earlier this year at separate hearings to six months in prison and fines and costs of £11,320, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.



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