London-based waste management firm Powerday has been fined £900,000 after it admitted illegally dealing with 14,000 tonnes of hazardous waste which included asbestos.
Following a prosecution by the Environment Agency (EA), the company faced a number of charges relating to accepting waste – mixed soil, wood, asbestos and other hazardous material – from various suppliers at its Old Oak Sidings facility in Willesden in 2010.
Powerday admitted five charges at court hearings in April 2014 and in February 2015, in what has been a long-running legal case.
Two separate charges regarding non-hazardous trommel fines supplied by Powerday to a Buckinghamshire company in 2012 were transferred from Oxford Crown Court.
MRW reported in June 2015 that Aylesbury Mushroom Farms was fined a total of £21,000 following an EA prosecution regarding the illegal depositing of 3,000 tonnes of waste originating from a Powerday transfer station. Powerday had admitted two charges.
Sentencing on all offences took place at Harrow Crown Court. Afterwards, the company issued a statement (below).
On the final day of the case (11 April), Powerday’s legal team reached an agreement with the EA to pay a total of £1m in fines covering all the charges, which Judge Barklem was asked to accept.
In its submission, Powerday told the judge it was “very keen to work with the agency” and that, as part of the settlement was concerned, “how the matter is portrayed publicly”.
Judge Barklem was also told the company “bitterly regrets” the offences, that it had “moved on” and “was not in conflict with its regulator [the EA]”.
The court also heard that Powerday chairman Mick Crossan had written to the judge about the work of his company. The judge told the court he had visited the Willesden site as part of his duties in the case and that he had found the facility “impressive”.
After a short deliberation, Judge Barklem agreed to the level of fines put to him: a total of £900,000 for the 2010 offences and a further £100,000 for the mushroom farm case.
The judge ordered Powerday to pay legal costs of £243,955.35. Powerday also offered to make a £25,000 donation to a relevant environment charity.
After the case, Crossan set out Powerday’s reaction in a statement:
“We are pleased to have a resolution, although we remain frustrated that the case got to this point. We acknowledge that there was a breach arising from an ambiguity in the waste management licence at Old Oak Siding dating back to 2005. However, we had operated and openly reported our activities to the EA for a number of years and were subject to regular inspections from various officers and EA audit.
“As soon as we were notified of a potential breach we stopped relevant operations. The parties worked together over 18 months to agree a new environmental permit that clarified previous areas of ambiguity, which we have operated successfully ever since.
“In the years since the issues came to light, Powerday has continued to drive forward with industry-leading standards at our state-of-the-art MRF at Old Oak Sidings and Enfield. Since the incident came to light, we’ve introduced improved governance and management systems consistent with the increased scope and scale of the business.
“We continue to work closely and professionally with the EA. Our customers can be assured of our high standards of compliance and excellent environmental performance.”
- Article updated on 13 April to reflect the full total of fines imposed - initialy we incorrectly reported a figure of £650,000