A mother and son responsible for an illegal waste site that caught fire and burned for weeks have been given suspended sentences.
The site caught fire on 18 August 2016 which was still smouldering on 30 August 2016. Kirklees Council were not able to remove all the waste from the site until March 2017 and accumulated £1,142,131 in costs. An Environment Agency officer estimated the volume of waste on the site to be between 825 and 1383 tonnes.
The Environment Agency says huge piles of waste were found pushing against a perimeter fence which was broken in places and shredded waste was stored between a roofed area of the site and a wall when it should have been in a building or held in bays.
The Environment Agency ordered the waste be moved and the fences repaired but return inspections found that no improvements had been made. West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service also attended the site and advised Samuel Hunter that it was a fire risk and that he needed to introduce fire breaks between the waste piles
The seriousness of this sentence sends out a message that waste crime will not be tolerated.
The two defendants, who were director and manager of Hunter Group (Yorkshire) Limited also known as Sam H Services Limited, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to charges of waste offences at a site in Queens Mill Road, Huddersfield.
At Leeds Crown Court, Samuel Hunter, 31, was sentenced to 24 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work, the maximum number of hours a court can order. His mother Jacinta Hunter, 59, was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
There were no financial orders for costs against the defendants at this hearing but a timetable was set for Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings.
The company had premises at Scotland Yard, Queens Mill Road, Huddersfield, and held an environmental permit from the Environment Agency. However, following site inspections by the Environment Agency in 2015 and 2016, the site was found to be repeatedly in breach of its permit.
Despite repeatedly being warned, waste was still brought onto site causing a risk to the environment.
Following continued breaches of the permit and concerns over the waste falling through the fence and potentially polluting a river, two enforcement notices were issued. When advice had been given to make improvements, Samuel Hunter was verbally abusive to officers on more than one occasion, the Environment Agency said.
Ben Hocking, Yorkshire Environment Manager at the Environment Agency, commented: “The seriousness of this sentence sends out a message that waste crime will not be tolerated. This case followed action from the Environment Agency with support from our colleagues at West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and Kirklees Council.
“Despite repeatedly being warned, waste was still brought onto site causing a risk to the environment and contributing to a fire which affected the surrounding community and businesses, and left authorities with significant clear up costs.”