Mark Smyth, aged 40, from Pershore, Worcestershire was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work following a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency at Worcester Crown Court relating to illegal waste activity.
He was also ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to the landowner and disqualified from acting as a company director for 7 years.
Mr Smyth, who was the sole director of Arrow Gypsum Recycling Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching the company’s environmental permit condition and was found guilty of failing to comply with an enforcement notice served by the Environment Agency,
“Waste crime is a serious offence with tough penalties as it can damage the environment, blight local communities and undermine those who operate legally. This case sends out a clear message that we will not hesitate to take action against anyone that fails to comply.”
During early 2015, the Environment Agency received a report that gypsum waste was being stored outside the building on the site. The conditions of the environmental permit stipulated that waste must be stored within the building, to avoid any risk to the environment.
Further investigations established that Mr Smyth had abandoned the site, leaving 29 tonnes of gypsum plasterboard outside the building and in excess of 5,000 tonnes inside the building. Attempts were made by Environment Agency officers to speak to Mr Smyth about the permit breach and clearance of the material outside. When Mr Smyth failed to respond, a formal enforcement notice was served, requiring him to clear the waste he abandoned on the site he rented at Crucible Business Park in Norton, Worcester. Mr Smyth ignored the enforcement notice.
During the trial the defendant claimed not to have received the enforcement notice. This was not accepted by the Magistrates, who found the defendant did receive the notice, but chose to bury his head in the sand and ignore it.
Environment Agency officers have worked with an agent of the landowner to clear the site, at a cost of £450,000. At Worcester Crown Court, His Honour Judge Cole, found that the substantial clean up costs was a serious aggravating feature of the case.
It was clear to the court that once the processing of the gypsum waste ceased and the building became full, Mr Smyth should have stopped accepting the waste, but he did not. He deliberately continued accepting waste, leading to the breach of the permit; waste being stored outside. Mr Smyth ignored his responsibilities as the director of the company and left the waste on the site at considerable cost to the landowner.
In mitigation the court heard that Mr Smyth intended to operate the business in line with the permit when he took over the business in 2013, but when the processing of the waste stopped, he had contracts that had to be honoured, so he carried on accepting the waste.
HHJ Cole suspended the term of imprisonment, taking into consideration the potential impact on Mr Smyth’s 12 year daughter and her mother, along with Mr Smyth’s previous good character.
Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “Waste crime is a serious offence with tough penalties as it can damage the environment, blight local communities and undermine those who operate legally. This case sends out a clear message that we will not hesitate to take action against anyone that fails to comply.”