Custodial Sentence And £330,000 Penalty For Illegal Wood Waste Operations

09-01-14(3)picChristopher Roy Theaker was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court (7 Jan) over four charges relating to the operation of illegal wood waste facilities in Mansfield and Sheffield without an environmental permit. 

He pleaded guilty at an earlier Court hearing.

The 49-year-old was given a 9-month custodial sentence, ordered to pay £250,000 in confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, ordered to pay £80,000 in investigation and costs, along with a £120 victim surcharge.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010. Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Counsel Kevin Saunders told the Court that between June 2010 and October 2011, Christopher Theaker operated four separate commercial wood waste sites across Sheffield and Mansfield, trading under the company name Theaker Recycling Limited.

Environment Agency – “We offered advice to Mr Theaker on a number of occasions to help him run his business legitimately while protecting the environment. Instead of working with us to do this, he chose to show blatant disregard for the law”

There were no environmental permits in force at any of the sites that authorised wood storage and wood chipping activities that were being carried out. Exemptions that had been registered to allow certain waste activities to take place were breached.

Officers advised Mr Theaker that he was not complying with the terms of the exemptions that had been registered at the site as waste quantities were being exceeded. Following warnings, the Environment Agency revoked the exemption and activities ceased shortly afterwards.

Between September and November 2010, Christopher Theaker set up similar operations on land at Effingham Road in Sheffield. He was offered further advice and guidance by the Environment Agency on how to legitimise his business but this was ignored. Wood storage and chipping activities continued and limits on waste wood quantities were exceeded.  Contaminated wood waste was observed on site.

In passing sentence His Honour Judge Watson QC stated that the operations created a significant risk of harm in the form of dust pollution and that the offences had been committed despite warnings from the Environment Agency.

In committing the offences, Theaker had demonstrated a prolonged, systematic disregard for the regulations with a view to profit.

Speaking after the case, an Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation, said: “We offered advice to Mr Theaker on a number of occasions to help him run his business legitimately while protecting the environment. Instead of working with us to do this, he chose to show blatant disregard for the law and moved his illegal activities from site to site. By doing this, not only did he undercut business competitors who operate legally, his activities adversely impacted a number of local communities over an extended period.

“We want to encourage responsible businesses into the area, but this case demonstrates that we will track down offenders who put profit before their obligations to local communities and the environment. We will continue to work with partner organisations to place them before the courts to face the consequences of their actions.”

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