A Worksop man has been jailed and five others given suspended sentences and community orders for serious environmental offences which led to a series of fires.
Several corporate officers working for Nottinghamshire Recycling Limited (NRL) and two also working for Park Farming Limited (PFL) appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday after breaching environmental permits at three sites in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Kiveton and South Anston in South Yorkshire.
The environmental offences committed helped maximise the companies’ financial gain at the expense of the environment, and led to a series of fires on one of NRL’s sites at Shireoaks Road in Worksop in 2013 and 2014. All three sites were operated illegally despite the fact that NRL had previously been convicted in 2011 for offences it had committed at Shireoaks Road.
Kevin Malcom Burgess of Old Coach Road, Worksop; Warren Richard Steele of Drury Lane, Doncaster; David Vincent Berry of Orchard Court, South Normanton; Edward Charles Freeman of Stephen Hill, Sheffield; Martin Crowther of Chapel Rise, Anston, Sheffield and Peter Charles Sanderson of Peak Close, Bramley, Rotherham, were sentenced on Monday.
Defendants linked to NRL continued to act illegally after the company had previously been convicted in 2011. Documents discovered during the course of the Environment Agency’s (EA) investigation clearly demonstrated that company officers were fully aware that the sites were being operated illegally.
Prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, Chris Badger told the court that NRL and PFL repeatedly operated outside the terms of their environmental permits for financial gain. NRL officers created significant risk to the environment and harm to human health. Among other permit breaches, waste was stored in huge quantities outside of the business’ permitted areas. Waste was blended at both the Worksop and Kiveton site in an attempt to avoid higher rates of landfill tax.
The company paid no heed to repeated warnings about the illegal storage of waste at all three site, and the fire risks at Worksop. The defendants’ conduct resulted in five fires at NRL’s Worksop site during 2013 and 2014.
Large stockpiles of various wastes deposited illegally by the companies at the three sites still remain and continue to have an environmental impact. Both NRL and PFL entered administration during the period of the investigation. They have since gone into liquidation.
His Honour Judge Robert Moore said that the conduct of four of the companies’ directors in breaking the law had been deliberate, whilst a fifth had acted negligently. The actions of a site manager were judged to have been reckless in aiding and abetting the offending which took place at Kiveton and South Anston.
In mitigation, the judge noted that all defendants had pleaded guilty to the charges that they faced and applied an appropriate reduction to their sentences. He also commented that the defendants had not made personal financial gain as a result of the offences. All 6 defendants were of previous good character.
The sentences imposed were:
1. Kevin Burgess – 21 months immediate custodial sentence. Disqualification from being a director for 7 years.
2. Edward Freeman – 8 months custody suspended for 2 years with a requirement to perform 150 hours of unpaid work. Contribution towards prosecution costs of £5,000.
3. Warren Steele - 6 months custody suspended for 2 years with a requirement to perform 100 hours of unpaid work. Contribution towards prosecution costs of £5,000.
4. Peter Sanderson - 8 months custody suspended for 2 years with a requirement to perform 150 hours of unpaid work. Contribution towards prosecution costs of £5,000.
5. Martin Crowther - 12 month community order with a requirement to perform 80 hours of unpaid work. Contribution towards prosecution costs of £1,500.
6. David Berry - 12 month community order with a requirement to perform 100 hours of unpaid work. Contribution towards prosecution costs of £5,000.
Commenting after the hearing, Environment Agency Waste Regulatory Specialist Iain Regan said: “This was a large and complex investigation, and one in which Nottinghamshire Recycling Limited (NRL) at various stages deliberately attempted to mislead us as the regulator.
"Companies like NRL distort the waste market by unfairly undercutting legitimate waste businesses, making it difficult for compliant firms to compete.
"This causes erosion of the legal waste sector and standards, resulting in an industry which is vulnerable to domination by illegal operators who have no concern for protecting the public or the environment.
"We hope this case assures the legitimate waste industry and the public that we will investigate businesses who deliberately or recklessly flout the law, and that the sentences passed today send a clear message that behaviour as exhibited by NRL, PFL and their management is unacceptable.
“The EA has brought this case to a successful outcome by dedicated hard work and professionalism.”