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Boss and firm fined for illegal waste activities

08 October 2023

A DIRECTOR and his waste company have been ordered to pay nearly £110,000 following a case brought by the Environment Agency for illegal waste activities.

At Worcester crown court on 28 September 2023, Gary Shorthouse and G R Shorthouse Ltd admitted unlawfully storing, treating and disposing of waste without an environmental permit between September 2018 and November 2019. 

Gary Ralph Shorthouse, 58, of Hopton Wafers, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was fined £68,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £33,395.74. 

He was also disqualified from acting as a company director for 5 years. G R Shorthouse Ltd was fined £8,500.

The court was told that the illegal activity was carried out by the company, but Shorthouse consented to the activity at Park Farm, Doddington, Hopton Wafers.

The company ran a skip-hire business, bringing waste to the site from domestic and commercial customers, for financial gain. 

The waste was then sorted, with some waste being burned, metal being sold for scrap, and the remainder being sent for legitimate disposal elsewhere.

The court was further told that in June 2019, Environment Agency officers found evidence that the site was being used for the storage of scrap metal, burning of wood waste, and unauthorised use of construction and demolition waste.

The waste activity was unlawful because neither the company nor Shorthouse held an environmental permit.

In July 2019, Gary Shorthouse was advised in writing to cease the activity.

A formal interview under caution with Shorthouse took place in September 2019, in which he admitted that the company was using the site as a base for the skip-hire business. He also admitted that the company was storing, treating and burning waste. 

The court heard that Shorthouse had been convicted of a similar offence in 2003, and received a formal written warning from the Environment Agency for offending in 2008. G R Shorthouse Ltd had also been convicted of waste related offences in 2012.

The sentencing judge stated that the offending amounted to an intentional and flagrant breach of the law and was aggravated by the previous convictions and financial motivation.

In mitigation, the court heard that Shorthouse had pleaded guilty to the offences prior to trial, and was suffering with significant health issues.

Lyndon Essex, waste technical specialist for the Environment Agency in the West Midlands, said, "We hope this case will send a clear message that we do not hesitate to take action to protect the environment and bring perpetrators to justice. Shorthouse operated the site without the required permit which, as well as undermining the regulatory regime, also had an impact on lawful waste operators. We are actively targeting illegal waste activities across the country and would urge all those seeking to become involved in the waste industry to ensure they have the appropriate permits and authorisations in place."

Businesses and householders should carry out checks to ensure that they are using legitimate companies to deal with their waste.