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UK: Repeat waste offender sent to prison for 12 months after ignoring Environment Agency warnings

A hearing to deal with a proceeds of crime application has been adjourned to next year

Repeat waste offender Nicolas Fletcher, aged 25 has been sent to prison for a year.

Luton Crown Court heard on Friday (9 Nov) that Fletcher, trading as Dunstable Skip Hire and Luton Skip hire, took waste to land he had rented at two sites in Bedfordshire.

Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said that for over two years significant amounts of waste had been brought onto the sites, tipped, sorted, stored and burned.

She said the sites did not have the appropriate infrastructure to deal with the waste and Fletcher of Church Road, Streatley, Luton, saved about £85,000 by operating illegally.

She said Fletcher operated from Leagrave Station Car Park, Luton, for at least three months before being evicted by the land owner, leaving much of the waste on site.

At one time, she said, there were 41 skips at another site in Clophill Road site, Maulden, Bedfordshire, 36 of which contained building and household waste. There were also a number of hazardous waste items including lead batteries, cathode ray tubes, fridges, gas cylinders and material that commonly contains asbestos – none of which was kept securely.

Other waste, rubble and electrical equipment was piled on the ground.

Fletcher had been served a statutory notice to remove the waste from site by 8 March 2012 but he failed to do it.

The court was told that Fletcher had previous environmental convictions for the same type of offences and his waste carrier’s licence had been revoked in 2011 due to these convictions.

Within days of committal to the crown court for sentencing and proceeds of crime proceedings Fletcher continued to offend on the Clophill Road site. Covert surveillance showed him taking empty skips to customers, bringing full skips back, tipping them and other full skips of waste on the ground.

Fletcher was also seen sorting through and burning the waste.

Mrs McDonald said burning this type of waste would never be permitted as the smoke and fumes would be likely to contain toxic and harmful substances. Smoke would also cause a nuisance to people living nearby.

Miss Julia Farrent, defence barrister, said Fletcher was a hard worker whose actions caused no actual harm to human health.

Judge Kay said Fletcher had:
“An astonishing record of flouting the law and has shown no remorse.”
He said his actions were deliberate and financially motivated.

A hearing to deal with a proceeds of crime application has been adjourned to next year.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Sarah Melvin said:
"These are serious crimes that undermine legal businesses, cause damage to our environment and potentially endanger people's health. We have the expertise and legal powers to tackle environmental crime, offenders should be aware that they can't continue to break the law without there being consequences."
Nicolas Fletcher pleaded guilty to:
1. Between 30 November 2010 to 22 February 2011 Nicholas Fletcher contravened Regulation 12(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 by operating a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the keeping and treating of waste, namely wood, plasterboard and electric cabling on land at a compound off Leagrave Station Car Park, Luton, except under and to the extent authorised by an environment permit.

Contrary to Regulation 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
Two months imprisonment

2. Between 31 May 2011 to 20 April 2012 on land at Burgoine Business Centre, Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedfordshire MK45 2AE, you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storage and treatment of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
Eight months imprisonment to run concurrent with the two months

3. Between 25 October 2012 and 30 October 2012 on land at Burgoine Business Centre, Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedfordshire MK45 2AE, you did operate a regulated facility, namely a waste operation for the deposit, storage and treatment of waste, without being authorised by an environmental permit granted under Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

Contrary to Regulation 12(1)(a) and 38(1)(a) Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010
Four months imprisonment to run consecutive
At an earlier hearing Gary Lee Abrams, aged 28, of Rant Meadow, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, who drove skip lorries for Fletcher, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to:
1. On 15 March 2012 at Burgoine Business Centre, Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedfordshire MK45 2AE, you did intentionally obstruct Jeremy Michael Hay, a Senior Environmental Officer, employed by the Environment Agency in the exercise and performance of his powers and duties.

Contrary to Section 110(1) of the Environment Act 1995
No separate penalty

2. Between 31 May 2011 to 20 April 2012 on land at Burgoine Business Centre, Clophill Road, Maulden, Bedfordshire MK45 2AE, you did deposit controlled waste when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the regulator pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 authorising the said deposit.

Contrary to section 33(1)(a) and section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990
£500 fine and £1500 costs