Welsh environmental regulator, Natural Resources Wales, is “strongly advising” waste companies to comply with the rules.
The warning comes after the directors of a waste company in North Wales were ordered to pay a total of £292,000 as compensation for running a waste operation illegally.
Patricia Gaffey, Joseph Gaffey and Michael Gaffey, directors of Porthmadog Skip Hire, were each sentenced to 10 months in prison in March 2017 for illegally storing waste and breaching the terms of their environmental permit.
And, after a hearing at Mold Crown Court last week, they now have three months to pay £292,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act or face further prison sentences.
The figure is based on the potential value at auction of the company’s assets and the personal assets of all three directors, NRW explained.
NRW said it will use the money to pay the costs of clearing the company’s yard at Penamser Industrial Estate, Porthmadog.
Tim Jones, executive director of operations for North and Mid Wales for Natural Resources Wales, said: “We don’t want to take companies to court. We’d much rather work with them so they operate legally without harming the environment.
“Sites such as this pose a very real threat to the local environment, to people and wildlife. So they have to be cleared.
“So it’s right that the people responsible for creating the situation are also the ones who pay to clear up the mess and environmental threat they leave behind.
Above: An aerial view of the Porthmadog Skip Hire site (Video: Natural Resources Wales)
“All companies that run waste sites must prove to us that they have the right systems, infrastructure and processes in place before we award an environmental permit.
“We’re more than happy to discuss any issues with any waste operator. It’s much better to deal with problems before they become serious rather than punish the perpetrators afterwards.”
NRW said it has been awarded £347,000 by the Welsh Government to clear the site and will use the £292,000 from the compensation order to pay back this award.
It was agreed at Mold Crown Court that the total criminal benefit of the offences was £1,521,304. This means that if the operators have more funds available in the future NRW can return to the court and apply for further compensation.