A SKIP hire company and its managing director were ordered to pay just short of £22,000 after illegally operating a waste disposal, treatment and storage facility without the relevant permits.

Manchester-based ETA Skip Hire Limited and Thomas Poole admitted operating illegally at Leigh Trading Estate on Butts Street at a site where more than a dozen fires broke out.

The Environment Agency brought the case to court after the company did not take its advice on board in operating at the site or obtaining the necessary permit.

Between August 2018 to April 2019, the firm offered skips for hire and returning them to the estate where they were emptied and sorted without an environmental permit or relevant waste exemption. 

The business even burnt waste to avoid paying fees for proper legal disposal.

In August 2018, Environment Agency officers visited the site after reports of possible illegal waste activity.

It was on this visit that officers were told by Poole that neither he or the company had an environmental permit to operate.

Officers advised him to stop operating and remove the waste and he was told how to apply for a permit.

Further inspections and advice was given and in November 2018 officers saw evidence of a fire on site and firefighters were called.

The fire and rescue service were also called on 12 other occasions by neighbouring businesses who reported fires.

The fire service estimated the cost of this to be approximately £8,700.

On December 11, 2018 the Environment Agency served notice on ETA Skip Hire Ltd to remove the waste.

Officers inspected the site 10 days later on December 21, 2018 and waste was still present.

The site was then inspected three times in January 2019, where waste activity carried on.

The case was heard at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, February 11.

After the company and Poole pleaded guilty to an offence under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, ETA Skip Hire Limited was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £4,922 and a victim services surcharge fee of £180.

Poole was fined £1,600 and told to pay a £160 victim services surcharge fee.

Leigh Journal:

Waste at the site

Leigh Journal:

Firefighters were called to the site repeatedly

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Chair of the bench Catherine Maher told a company representative: “When the company was set up you did not exercise reasonable and due diligence regarding the necessary permissions that were required.

"There followed numerous visits from the Environment Agency and advice was given which was ignored.

"In carrying out your activities as described there was the obvious risk to the environment and local community and the necessity for many call-outs by the fire brigade.

"We accept that the site is now cleared but however it is the responsibility of a director of a company to ensure that those employed carry out their duties in accordance with legal requirements.”

Area environment manager for the Environment Agency, Mark Easedale, said: “The Environment Agency are committed to prosecuting when an offence has been committed.

"In this case the defendants had consistently failed to respond to advice and guidance, warnings and statutory notices requiring steps to be taken to improve operations at the site.

"Illegal waste sites undercut legitimate business, can cause severe damage to the environment and misery for local residents and businesses.

"We are determined to make life hard for criminals.

"We support legitimate business and we are proactively supporting them by disrupting and stopping the criminal element.

"We would like to remind all landowners and occupiers that, they may be required to clear waste which has been deposited illegally, on their land, at their own expense and may be prosecuted if they fail to do so."

In mitigation, Jonathon Bell, solicitor for both defendants, confirmed that the site had been cleared and that the defendants had entered guilty pleas at the first available opportunity.

If you have any suspicion that waste is being deposited on land contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or the police as soon as possible.