Recycling company fined after facility fire
MIDUK RECYCLING Ltd was sentenced after a serious fire occurred at a site in Ancaster that had been used to store waste illegally.
Lincolnshire County Council reported on its successful prosecution of MidUK Recycling Ltd in conjunction with the Environment Agency, after the company experienced a fire at a recycling facility in Ancaster. The fire, which took place in July 2015, required nearby roads to be closed for several days, while local residents were told to ‘keep windows and doors closed’.
The cause of the fire was established to have been ‘spontaneous combustion due to the long period of storage, the quantity and the nature of the wastes’, with the council stating that it was ‘a direct result of the illegal storage of waste’. In April 2014, the company was found to have been ‘flouting planning controls’ by storing thousands of tonnes of waste at various locations around the facility, and at up to 10 metres in height.
Additionally, there was a stockpile of several hundred tonnes of unbaled carpets ‘piled up to around 6 metres high’, with no appropriate fire breaks, and despite being requested to remove the waste, the company did not do so. In response, the council served the company with a planning enforcement notice in July 2014, which the company did not comply with, before the fire the year after.
As a result of the fire, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service ‘was in full-time attendance at the site for nearly a week’, with the case at Lincoln Crown Court last July seeing the company, landowner MC Mountain and Son Ltd and director Mowbray Christopher Mountain pleading guilty to five charges of breaching planning and environmental legislation.
They were sentenced this week and fined £100,000, as well as to pay council and Environment Agency costs of £50,000 in addition to paying the fire and rescue service costs of £230,000.
Eddy Poll, executive member for commercial and environmental management, stated: ‘This case clearly demonstrates the consequences of handling waste materials in disregard of planning conditions and environmental controls. This incident had a serious impact, not only on the environment, but also on the community.
‘The residents of Lincolnshire should not have to pay for emergency services attending the consequences of waste crime and I am pleased that we have fully recovered all these costs. I trust that this case sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate environmental and planning crime in this county and we will always seek to recover the council’s costs where action is taken.’
Norman Robinson, Environment Agency area director for Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, added: ‘Crime of this nature can have a terrible impact on the environment and local communities. That’s why it’s vital those who handle waste work within the regulations. The company and the director in this case have repeatedly failed to comply with requests from our officers to implement and comply with fire prevention guidance.
‘While we work with businesses to help them meet their environmental obligations, where there are breaches we’ll take enforcement action as in this case. This case demonstrates the need for everyone to take their environmental responsibilities seriously. We expect large businesses to set a good example to others in the industry, we hope to work positively in future with the operator.’