Scrap dealer to pay £400,000 for illegal car breakers yard
A dismantler claimed he was repairing vehicles, not stripping them, but made £1.3m over six years at his Westonzoyland compound in Somerset.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency following a joint investigation with Avon and Somerset Police. At Taunton Crown Court in March 2020, the scrap dealer was warned he would face a three-year prison sentence if he failed to pay the penalty imposed under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
When Agency officers visited the premises in January 2015 they suspected he was dismantling scrap cars, despite being told he must obtain an environmental permit for this activity. Dismantlers must remove all hazardous components and materials from end-of-life vehicles, including batteries, oils, brake fluids and airbag cylinders. Sites must have special facilities, including impermeable concrete floors to ensure hazardous liquid spills are contained.
In February 2017, a visiting Agency officer noticed a number of car engines stored on wooden pallets at the site. The dealer said these were purchased in Manchester, but had no proof of purchase. The officer served him with a notice requiring waste transfer notes for all wastes brought onto or exported from the site between January 2016 and February 2017.
Audits of local permitted scrap metal dealers later confirmed the dismantler had been paid approximately £84,000 for car shells, engines, batteries, ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals over 20 months from January 2016. He also made money from the sale of re-usable vehicle parts, including the export of components to Greece and Georgia. Proceeds of Crime investigators discovered he was still operating illegally after entering a guilty plea in 2018.
The man was fined £384,100 and £16,629 costs, and given an 18-month conditional discharge.