9 January 2020 by James Langley

Suspended sentence for waste transfer station manager

The manager of a waste transfer station in Cornwall has been given a 12-month suspended prison sentence for running an illegal waste site.

Adam Wilcott, 45, of Copleston Road, Plymouth, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay £2,308 costs.

Waste at the Torpoint-based Highgate Services site appeared to be out of control

Wilcott was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to four environmental permitting offences.

These included failing to comply with an enforcement notice and not operating a management system that reduced the risk of pollution.

Tina Cossens, speaking on behalf of the Agency, said: “The defendants in this case continued to operate illegally despite receiving advice and guidance from the Environment Agency on numerous occasions.

“The operators allowed the site to steadily deteriorate until finally we were left with no choice other than to prosecute.”

Wilcott was also made the subject of a criminal behaviour order which prevents him from taking part in any waste business activities for five years.

Transfer station

The waste transfer site, based in Torpoint, ceased operations in December 2017 and has since been sold to a developer.

“The operators allowed the site to steadily deteriorate until finally we were left with no choice other than to prosecute”

Environment Agency

A large amount of abandoned refuse remains on site, and the Agency says it is “working to ensure the new landowner clears the site of the waste.”

The station was operated by Wilcott on behalf of Highgate Services Ltd since December 2017, and had a permit which allowed it to accept non-hazardous waste including stone, rubble, brick, wood, packaging, plastics, construction waste, metal and household waste.

The material was to be sorted and any waste of value sold to other sites for reprocessing, reuse or recovery.

Poorly maintained

During a visit to the Torpoint-based site in January 2018, the Agency explained that its officers saw that unsorted waste was “overflowing onto adjoining land, contaminated run-off was overflowing from a drain and waste was being stored in skips outside the permitted area”.

According to the Environment Agency, waste was stored in skips outside the permitted area

An area used to store waste in the poorly maintained main building had also flooded, the Agency said.

Though Agency officers inspected the site a further four times between April and August 2018 and Highgate Services was issued with a Compliance Assessment Report that listed five breaches in its site permit, “no attempt was made to rectify the breaches”.

In July 2018, Wilcott deliberately locked the waste transfer station with an officer outside. However, the officer conducted an inspection from behind the gates and saw the site was still in a poor state.

When the officer returned a few days later they reported the site “appeared to be out of control” and was “rammed full of mixed skip waste with many tonnes spilling into the yard”.

Highgate Services and its director Michael Bonar, 70, were served with three enforcement notices requiring the amount of waste on the site to be reduced within a specified time period. The company complied with the first but failed to comply with the other two, prompting court action.

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