Jail term for illegal waste business that created Thames flood risk


selby waste crime

The owner of a skip-hire company in north Kent has been convicted after the harmful way he handled waste on the banks of the River Thames.

Jack Selby is starting an 8-month suspended prison sentence for running an unlicensed waste treatment operation at Erith that caught fire and threatened the area from flooding. A court then ordered the site to be closed at the request of the Environment Agency.

Judge Sarah Whitehouse KC sentenced Selby at Woolwich crown court to 8 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, 60 hours of unpaid work and a victim surcharge of £156. No costs were awarded against Selby.

The 36-year-old was the sole director of Selbys Ltd, which took in construction, demolition and household waste in rented premises for 11 months across 2021 and 2022.

Another of Selby’s companies, M&R Skip Hire, held an environmental permit there before being wound up. An earlier suspension notice served on M&R for environmental concerns had the site on the Environment Agency’s radar.

Selby’s suspended jail term must serve as a strong reminder to everyone in the waste industry.

Officers later found out Selbys, the new firm, was advertising on Facebook, with the advert falsely claiming the business was legitimate. After believing Selby was handling waste illegally on the industrial estate in late 2020, investigators made a series of visits to confirm their suspicions.

They found the site stacked with large piles of waste like wood and plastic, along with a significant amount of crushed waste, known as trommel fines.

The size of the waste mountains at Maypole Crescent caused the aggregate to spill over onto the adjoining flood defence.

The Environment Agency later said the weight of the waste on the embankment could have meant a “realistic risk” of it failing, which might have led to the evacuation of the entire industrial estate in the event of a flood. The defence provided flood protection from the rivers Thames and Darent that ran alongside the industrial units.

Waste crime
Officers also found evidence Selbys was burning waste.

Officers also found evidence Selbys was burning waste. In February last year, some of the waste caught fire by itself, leading to the London Fire Brigade spending a day extinguishing the flames.

Matt Higginson, an environment manager for the Environment Agency in south London and Kent, commented: “Jack Selby broke the law for financial gain. Not only did he charge customers but treated waste illegally. He also skipped fees for managing a lawful waste operation.

“There were several implications from his and his company’s operation – the risk of air pollution from the scale of the business, a poor understanding of fire risk from how the waste was stored, and the damage to the flood embankment protecting riverside businesses.

“Selby’s suspended jail term must serve as a strong reminder to everyone in the waste industry, from companies to individuals, to operate within the law.”

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