An illegal operation to export mattress material to Egypt from an unpermitted site in Norwich was broken up by the Environment Agency (EA) amid fears of a serious fire risk.
During two separate court cases, Norwich Magistrates’ Court heard that hundreds of tonnes of waste mattresses and mattress textiles were stored on the site – almost 100 times as many as were allowed under a registered exemption.
Nicholas Ostrowski, prosecuting for the EA, said that when investigators visited the site in August 2015 following a report from a member of the public, the site was “jammed full”. The fire service was concerned about the risk of fire.
On 28 March, magistrates found company director Mark Paul Stone and his company, Salhouse Norwich, guilty of allowing an illegal waste site to operate from a site they owned.
Stone denied knowing that the tenant’s waste site, off Rice Way on Salhouse Industrial Estate, was illegal. Stone and Salhouse Norwich were both found guilty of knowingly permitting the operation of a waste facility without a permit and will be sentenced in May.
The tenant, Mark Ian Quinsey, 39, trading as Salhouse Recyclers, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to running the illegal operation, failing to clear the site when told to by the EA and illegally exporting waste.
Quinsey was sentenced to 20 weeks’ custody, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He must also pay a contribution to costs of £720 and a victim surcharge of £115.
Ostrowski told the court that Quinsey had registered exemptions for an operation far smaller than the one he ran and he had deliberately breached environmental regulations. Despite being served with an enforcement notice to clear the site, had failed to do so.
Evidence presented included a shipment of 27 compressed bales of waste to Egypt for recycling, but Quinsey did not have appropriate export approvals. An enforcement notice served on Quinsey was only partly complied with.
The EA also approached Stone and Salhouse Norwich, who were advised to clear the site but the waste remained there.
Quinsey told EA investigators that an Egyptian company wanted fabric for recycling but there was a problem with Egyptian customs so he had to store the material until he found another outlet.
The site had no environmental management system, no fire suppression system, no fire detection system, no dust suppression system, no litter prevention infrastructure nor sealed drainage system. Quinsey had no insurance for his activities and no lease on one of the buildings he used.
Stone, 69, from Marylebone High Street, London, told investigators that Quinsey had claimed to have relevant permissions for the waste operation but no checks were made.
He said his company had concerns about the fire risk and was “horrified” by all the waste on-site. They were worried that if they told Quinsey to stop operating, he would leave a factory full of waste. Stone was aware the operation was out of hand.
After the hearing, EA investigator Lorraine Machin said the agency had acted quickly because of the environmental and fire risk, although most of the waste still remained on-site.