- Director ordered to pay £22,170 for “reckless disregard of law”
- Three firms prosecuted for storing wood which posed fire risk
- Advice from Environment Agency officers repeatedly ignored
Fines and costs totalling £61,380 have been imposed on a West Midlands company director and his waste wood recycling operations in a case brought by the Environment Agency.
At Dudley magistrates on Friday 20 January 2023, director Robert Moody pleaded guilty to failing to ensure his companies complied with environmental permits. He was ordered to pay fines and costs of £22,170.
Moody ran three companies in the West Midlands - Berkswell Recycling Limited, Hollybush Recycling Limited and Lodgewood Recycling Limited – who were each ordered to pay fines and costs of £13,070. All the sites stored excessive amounts of wood, for a prolonged period which posed serious fire and health risks.
The court heard that Moody headed up Jack Moody Recycling Ltd, of Warstone Road, Wolverhampton, which was an umbrella company for his group.
Though officers from the Environment Agency offered frequent advice, Moody did not heed warnings about how he was failing to meet the regulations.
The warnings escalated in September 2017 when the defendant acknowledged that they were operating outside the limits.
Conditions at the site continued to present unacceptable risks to the environment.
Officers found that at the Lodgewood site, near Telford, stockpiles of wood were so large that there was no space to quarantine waste in the event of a fire and insufficient fire breaks.
At the Berkswell site, near Hampton-in-Arden, it was estimated there was in excess of 5,000 tonnes rather than the permitted amount of 1,620 tonnes.
Both shredded and unshredded wood were mixed in the stockpiles, increasing the potential for self-combustion.
At the Hollybush site, near Cannock, huge stockpiles of waste wood were situated on an area of the site which had no concrete surfacing to prevent pollution of the ground.
All three companies were served with Enforcement Notices in October 2017 requiring them to reduce stockpile sizes within a six-week period – these were not complied with.
The situation did not improve at all, so the Environment Agency served Suspension Notices on the three companies in March 2018. This was to prohibit any further receipt of waste until the risk of pollution was reduced.
District Judge Wheeler said the offences had been carried out over a significant period of time and were not far short of a flagrant disregard for the law.
Iain Storer, Installations Lead for the Environment Agency in the West Midlands, said:
“We welcome this sentence which should act as a deterrent to others considering flouting the law.
“These sites posed a significant environmental threat due to the high risk of fire and potentially significant impact to local communities and amenities.
“As a regulator, the Environment Agency will not hesitate to pursue companies that fail to meet its obligations to the environment.
“The conditions of an environmental permit are designed to protect people and the environment.
“Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment, harm human health and undermine local legitimate waste companies.
“If anyone is suspicious of waste activities they should call our 24/7 hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence on 0800 555 111.”