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Environment Agency Enforcement

11th February, 2010

Recently the Environment Agency has been encouraging all businesses to check that they have the correct licences and permits to carry on the business activity. This could be making sure you have an Environmental Permit or a Waste Carriers Licence, but what do you need to look out for?

If you transport waste you should hold a Waste Carriers Licence, and following on from my article in July’s Lawdrive, if you don’t it is advisable to obtain one from the Environment Agency.

If you handle waste either by bulking up, storing or treating waste, then you need to have an Environmental Permit. That sounds simple, but the process is anything but simple. You need to ensure that you have Planning Permission for the activity and apply to the Environment Agency for a permit. The fees for the permit alone can be in excess of £2,500 with annual subsistence fees of the same magnitude. In addition the site may need to be modified to ensure there will be no damage to the environment.

In addition to the above, if you handle or manage more than 50 tonnes per year of packaging or packing material and have an annual turnover of £2,000,000.00 or more, then you need to comply with the Producer Responsibility Packing Waste Regulations and either carry out your obligations under the regulations yourself or join a compliance scheme which will exempt you from such obligations.

There are also similar schemes for waste electronic and electrical equipment and materials.

But what are the consequences of not complying?

The information below shows the maximum fines for the substantive offences associated with not complying with the above. The question is whether you can afford to pay these?

Offence: Keeping, treating, sorting or storing waste (this includes bulking up)
Fine in Magistrates’ Court: £50,000 and/or 6 months in prison
Fine in Crown Court: £unlimited and/or unlimited prison sentence

Offence: Breach of permit conditions
Fine in Magistrates’ Court: £As above Fine in Crown Court: £As above

Offence: Breach of duty of care/transporting waste without a Waste Carriers Licence/using incorrect waste classification codes.
Fine in Magistrates’ Court: £5,000 Fine in Crown Court: £unlimited

Offence: Breach of packaging waste regulations
Fine in Magistrates’ Court: £5,000
Fine in Crown Court: £unlimited

Offence: Breach of WEEE regulations Fine in Magistrates’ Court: £5,000 Fine in Crown Court: £unlimited

To highlight the above the following businesses were recently convicted and fined.

  • Great Western Wine Company fined £29,700.00 and ordered to pay £1,999 in costs together with £3,856 worth of compensation for failing to comply with the packaging waste regulations.
  • Sita Metal Recycling fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,556 for breaching the WEEE regulations.
  • Dynamic Cassette International Limited fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,058 for not complying with the packaging waste regulations.
  • A skip business owner fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £500 towards costs for fly tipping construction and domestic waste and transporting waste without a Waste Carriers Licence.
  • First For Builders Limited in Barnsley fined £13,000 for running an illegal waste transfer station and ordered to pay £2,911.40 in costs.For further information, advice or assistance on any waste management, planning or environmental law issue please contact Claire Petricca-Riding in the Real Estate Team on 01244 405440 or email her here.
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