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Company and directors fined for illegal waste site

26 April 2023

AN ESSEX waste company and its directors have been fined more than £20,000 after they stored tonnes of waste illegally at a site in Braintree.

Renew Recycling (London) Limited breached its exemptions by taking large amounts of wood and carpet waste onto a site at Straits Mill on Convent Lane, Braintree.

The offences occurred between December 2017 and March 2019. Officers visited the land in question on no less than 24 occasions during this time. They found that waste had been stored in breach of exemptions at the site, making the waste a risk to the environment.

The Environment Agency requested on numerous occasions that the site be cleared of non-compliant waste.

Serious fire risk

During a visit in February 2018, officers from Essex County Fire and Rescue also attended the location with the Environment Agency and raised serious concerns about the fire risk posed by the waste. Testing showed that wood stored on the site had been reaching internal temperatures of 65 degrees Celsius. This was a particular concern as the waste site is located close to protected woodland.

Crews were later called to fires at the site on two occasions – once in 2021 and then again in 2022.

As well as not complying with exemptions, investigations found that the company had failed to keep sufficient notes on where its waste was being sent.

The Environment Agency offered repeated opportunities for the site to be cleared. On one occasion in March 2018 the site was cleared and brought back into compliance. However, this lasted just 6 weeks before exemptions were breached again. Significant quantities of waste remain at the site.

Renew Recycling (London) Limited and its directors were sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on 4 April 2023.

Simon Levy, 47, of Grenville Place, Mill Hill pleaded guilty to 2 counts. David Johnson, 38, of Golding Thoroughfare, Chelmer Village, pleaded guilty to 1 count.

Altogether, the company and its directors pleaded guilty to 8 counts against them. These counts centred around failing to comply with exemptions and failing to keep proper documentation on waste leaving the site.

Speaking at the sentencing, His Honour Judge David Turner KC said the environmental risk at the site was “obvious” and “serious”.

He described the situation at the site as having “seemingly descended into a degree of chaos”.

Renew Recycling (London) Limited was fined a total of £10,500 plus a victim surcharge of £170. Simon Levy was fined £7,150 plus a victim surcharge of £170. David Johnson was fined £3,900 plus a victim surcharge of £170.

Both directors and the company were also ordered to pay £12,000 each in costs.

Aaron Scott, environment manager at the Environment Agency said, "We take illegal waste activity very seriously and will take the necessary action to disrupt criminal activity and prosecute those responsible.

"We support businesses trying to do the right thing, only issuing enforcement notices, and penalising businesses as a last resort.

"Renew Recycling and its directors were given advice on numerous occasions and told to remove the waste from the site but failed to do so."