Lincolnshire-based waste firm, Mid UK Recycling Ltd has been prosecuted for breach of environmental permit, following a fire at one of its sites in 2015.
Mid UK was fined £100,000 with fees of £50,000 after sentencing at Lincoln Crown Court last week (7 June).
The company also has to pay £230,000 to the Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Service to cover the costs of its services in dealing with the fire.
According to Lincolnshire county council, MidUK Recycling was prosecuted for operating illegal waste storage at a recycling facility at Barkston Heath, Ancaster.
LCC said the cause of the fire (see letsrecycle.com story) was “spontaneous combustion due to the long period of storage, the quantity and the nature of the wastes.”
“As a direct result of the illegal storage of waste, a serious fire occurred at the site in July 2015, which required closure of nearby roads for several days and warnings to local residents to keep windows and doors closed,” the council said.
In a statement, Mid UK Recycling’s managing director Chris Mountain, said: “We are extremely sorry this fire occurred and while there were mitigating circumstances at the time, including the cancellation of several shipments of RDF, which increased our stock on site, we do understand there were actions that could have been taken, which may have prevented the fire occurring.
“We are a company which strives to operate in a safe and professional manner at all times and it is therefore even more devastating to us that an incident like this occurred.
He added: “We work hard to comply to all regulations. At the time of the fire, we, like many other companies in the waste and recycling sector, were working with the EA towards meeting new fire prevention regulations, which had been introduced a few months earlier. Since the fire, we have made many changes at the site, which has enabled us to gain a bespoke fire prevention plan from the EA.”
Since the fire, Mid UK Recycling said it has taken a number of actions to improve its site safety, facilities and reduce the risk of future fires occurring.
At Lincoln Crown Court on 24 July 2017, MidUK Recycling Ltd landowner MC Mountain and Son Ltd, and director Mowbray Christopher Mountain, pleaded guilty to a total of five charges for breaching planning and environmental legislation. They were sentenced on 7 June at Lincoln Crown Court and fined a total of £100,000. They were ordered to pay the council’s and the Environment Agency costs of £50,000, as well as £230,000 for the council’s Fire and Rescue Service.
LCC said, in April 2014 that MidUk were found to be flouting planning controls and storing “thousands of tonnes” of waste at various locations around the site and in places to more than 10 metres high. “There was also a stockpile of several hundred tonnes of unbaled carpets piled up to around 6 metres high. There were no appropriate fire breaks,” LCC noted.
MidUK did not remove the wastes as requested, and as a result, Lincolnshire County Council served a planning enforcement notice in July 2014. “MidUK did not comply with the notice and on 7 July 2015 a fire broke out, which spread across the waste and building,” the council explained.
Lincolnshire’s Fire and Rescue Service was in full-time attendance at the site for nearly a week.
Cllr Eddy Poll, Executive member for commercial and environmental management for Lincolnshire county council, said: “This case clearly demonstrates the consequences of handling waste materials in disregard of planning conditions and environmental controls. This incident had a serious impact, not only on the environment, but also on the community.
“I trust that this case sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate environmental and planning crime in this county and we will always seek to recover the council’s costs where action is taken.”
Norman Robinson, Environment Agency area director for Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, said: “The company and the director in this case have repeatedly failed to comply with requests from our officers to implement and comply with fire prevention guidance.
“While we work with businesses to help them meet their environmental obligations, where there are breaches we’ll take enforcement action as in this case.
“This case demonstrates the need for everyone to take their environmental responsibilities seriously. We expect large businesses to set a good example to others in the industry, we hope to work positively in future with the operator.”