12 June 2019 by Caelia Quinault

Rowanoak directors found guilty of waste crime

The directors of a company responsible for abandoning 2,000 tonnes of waste at a site in the West Midlands in 2016 have been brought to account in a case brought by the Environment Agency.

Last Wednesday (5 June), jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court convicted the directors of Rowanoak Waste Services Limited for their failure to comply with permit conditions and enforcement notices at the site on Shaw Road in Dudley, known as Rowanoak.

Thousands of tonnes of waste were abandoned at the Rowanoak site in 2016

The court heard that operations at the site led to complaints of smells and dust. Employees of nearby businesses described the smell as ‘stomach churning’ and felt physically ill as a result of the odour coming from the site, according to the Agency.

The Agency added that the dust had an impact on neighbouring businesses, covering customers’ cars and business vehicles. Debris from the waste piles blocked the guttering and affected air conditioning at nearby factory units, it said.

Permit

Rowanoak Waste Services Limited and director Kevin Allan were found guilty on all counts in relation to failures to make sure the Shaw Road site was operated in accordance with the conditions of the environmental permit and compliance notices.

Director Randle Hawkins was found guilty of non-compliance with a revocation notice but cleared of four other charges relating to the breach of permit conditions and enforcement notice. Mr Hawkins stated during the trial that he was unaware that he was a director at the relevant times.

Mak Waste Ltd—which also operated at the Shaw Road site—and its director Brian McIntosh, had previously admitted their part in the failure to comply with the conditions of the permit on the site and the continual failure to action requests for compliance made by Environment Agency officers.

Edward Venables (formerly Boulton), also a director of Mak Waste Ltd, was found not guilty of all three charges against him.

Enforcement

The Environment Agency said it used various enforcement tools to try and bring the site back into compliance with the conditions of its environmental permit, but those operating the site “failed to act on the advice and guidance provided.”

“The Environment Agency use all the enforcement powers available where we believe environmental offences have been committed.”


Environment Agency

The Agency explained: “Enforcement notices were not complied with and the site was then abandoned in 2016 with a significant amount of waste left in situ. Environment Agency officers worked with the landowners and the waste was removed in March 2017.”

It is expected that His Honour Judge Kershaw will sentence all defendants at Wolverhampton Crown Court later this year.

Breach

Speaking after the case, the Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said: “In this case, those found guilty, by being in breach of their permit, continued to operate their site illegally and continually ignored the Environment Agency’s efforts to reduce the waste.

“The Environment Agency use all the enforcement powers available where we believe environmental offences have been committed.

“Allan, McIntosh and Hawkins have shown a complete disregard for the local community, subjecting local businesses to months of misery by illegally and inappropriately and storing large quantities of waste on the site.”

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