Businessman fined £84,000 for breaching permit
The director of A Morrey Distribution Limited (AMDL) faces a bill of £84,000 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice requiring him to submit a fire prevention plan for a former permitted site at Garner Street, Stoke-on-Trent.
The 69-year-old from Madeley, near Crewe, was fined £1,000 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice, and ordered to pay £50,000 in prosecution costs and a confiscation order of £33,000. This is to be paid to the Environment Agency and will go towards ensuring the site is safe. A default prison sentence of 12-18 months could be triggered if the sum is unpaid.
The director had pleaded guilty to four offences in June 2017 and the company entered guilty pleas to four similar charges of breaching permit conditions, contrary to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, between November 2014 and April 2016. There was no separate penalty for offences committed by the company due to its financial status.
The court heard that AMDL had been granted an environmental permit to store refuse-derived fuel (RDF) on a temporary basis at its Garner Street site. During 11 inspections between 2014 and 2016, Agency officers noted that bales of RDF were being stockpiled over the limits allowed. Around 18,000 tonnes of waste were deposited and stored in three different buildings across the site.
Some of the RDF bales were leaching a black liquid and giving off a foul odour. The bales presented a risk of self-combustion, with potentially serious consequences due to the site’s proximity to the A500 and the West Coast Main Line. Concerns were raised by the Agency, but the businessman failed to carry out any action to reduce the risk of fire, even after a suspension notice was issued. The permit was later revoked.
The judge noted that the breaches had occurred shortly after the permit had been issued by the Agency. He stated that the director had been “utterly stupid” to have entered into an arrangement with a third party to accept the bales without a proper written agreement.
Credit was given for early guilty pleas entered in 2017 by the company and its director, and the judge acknowledged that all parties had genuinely attempted to find a solution to enable the site to be cleared of all waste, and that this had delayed the conclusion of proceedings.
He reiterated that the businessman had been given every opportunity to comply with the regulations, but took no action. The Agency’s responsibilities gave it little choice but to suspend operations at the site and pursue prosecution. The Agency is facilitating the sale of the site so it can be cleared.