Recycling company racks up heavy fines

Lincolnshire-based recycling company Mid UK Recycling Ltd has been handed a fine of £100,000 following a serious fire at its premises at Barkston Heath, Ancaster, in July 2015.

The large fine comes in addition to an order to pay costs in the region of £50,000, and the company also agreed to pay £230,000 in compensation to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue as a consequence of the blaze.

As a result of the fire, 90 firefighters were called to the scene, and nearby roads were closed due to the large amount of thick smoke. Residents were also advised to stay indoors and shut windows and doors. The blaze burned for nearly a week before finally being deemed extinguished.

The fire broke out spontaneously, destroying a stockpile of waste consisting of carpet, mattresses and plastic bottles. Inspectors had previously found that the stockpile was around several hundred tonnes, piled to nearly 10 metres in height and with no appropriate fire breaks. Mid UK did not remove the waste as requested, and was served an enforcement notice in July 2014, with which it not comply.

The sentencing was passed by Judge John Pini QC. He stated that the company, which has contracts to collect recyclable waste with a range of local authorities, has a “history of not complying with guidance and enforcement notices.”

Judge Pini spoke during the sentencing, saying that “the repeated guidance and the failure to heed it properly, with knowledge of the risks, is to a considerable extent what grounds recklessness as opposed to negligence.”

The owner company of the site, MC Mountain and Sons Ltd, and managing director Mowbray Christopher Mountain, pleaded guilty to five charges of breaching planning and environmental legislation, and failing to comply with an enforcement notice, but no separate penalty was given.

Mountain said that, since the fire, the company had made changes and had a bespoke fire prevention plan from the Environment Agency.

Image credit: iStock

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