South Wales Wood Recycling (SWWR) has been fined £15,000 for breaches of an environmental permit relating to fire prevention plans and the disposal of fire-affected wood, in an investigation brought by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
Solicitors acting on behalf of the wood recycling company however, noted that the judge was critical of the investigation and in particular the decision to charge the company’s director. And the solicitors added that no charges were brought against the company for what was believed to be an arson attack in their yard in 2016.
Following a week-long trial at Cardiff Crown Court earlier this month, the director of the company, Dennis Burke, was acquitted of all charges but the firm was fined £7,500 for failure to comply with the requirements and environmental permit condition. It was also fined a further £7,500 for knowingly causing the operation of a regulated facility without authority, NRW reported.
The company was ordered to pay £10,000 towards the costs and £450 for “deficient waste transfer notes”. This meant three of the twelve charges brought by NRW led to a fine.
SWWR was found to have failed to comply with the provisions of their Fire Prevention Plan in that they failed to ensure that the waste stacks at their site at Locks Yard, Heol Y Cyw, Bridgend were sufficiently separated, NRW explained.
A solicitor at Blackfords LLP, which represented SWWR, added: “Our client is pleased that nine of the twelve charges against them were dismissed following a lengthy hearing at Cardiff Crown Court.
“While they accept the guilty verdict and fines handed down by the court, they will now work tirelessly to ensure they do not fall foul of these again. They are pleased that they can now work to restore the business’s reputation and would like to thank all those who supported them throughout these proceedings.”
The recent court action comes in the wake of the fire in 2016, which led to South Wales Wood Recycling being fined £16,000 in 2016 for the wood chip fire, which was at Alexandra Docks, on a charge of keeping controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health (see letsrecycle.com story).
Half of the £15,000 last week was in relation to the disposal of the wood that was damaged in that fire. The company noted that nearly all the material had been removed with a minimal amount remaining.
The other half was for insufficient fire breaks observed several months after the Bridgend fire.
Commenting after this month’s judgment, Steve Morgan, head of South East Wales operations for Natural Resources Wales, said: “We are concerned about the impact that poorly managed sites can have on people, the environment and the economy, including the reputation of the waste sector and legitimate business. The regulations in place for the safe management and storage of waste are there to protect both people and the environment. When those laws are ignored, the consequences can be very serious indeed.”
Mr Morgan added: “We hope the outcome of the case will send out a positive message in the waste industry that NRW will not tolerate those who seek to profit by breaking the law, harming local communities or damaging the environment.”