Nottingham-based Colson Transport and its director have been ordered to pay more than £70,000 for breaching the conditions of an environmental permit over a 19-month period that affected the lives of local residents.
In a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency, Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard how Ryan Colson, director of Colson Transport, a waste transfer company, took over a site on Bulwell Lane in Old Basford from the previous operators and the volume of waste passing through the site increased significantly. This led to dust escaping from the site and odour problems.
This had a significant effect on the lives of the local residents, businesses and a primary school, close to the site. Tim Pole, prosecution counsel on behalf of the Environment Agency, told the court that the failure to comply with the environmental permit and storing waste on-site in inappropriate ways led to the significant effect on the community.
In addition, Colson had stored combustible waste on site. The consequences of a fire on site would have reached beyond the company, and could have affected other businesses as well as the primary school.
The court was told that the nature, number and frequency of the complaints to the Environment Agency demonstrated the negative effect that Colson’s poor management of the site had on the lives of local residents. Colson Transport had received a written warning from the Environment Agency before the start of the prosecution, however Colson had failed to consistently operate the site in compliance with the permit.
In their favour, Colson and Colson Transport co-operated with the investigation and showed evidence of taking steps to remedy the problems on-site. Also there had been an investment of about £350,000 into the facility as well as an acceptance of responsibility.
In sentencing, district judge Tim Spruce found that the local residents had suffered because of the dust and odour problems emanating from the site, but there was no finding by the judge that this created a risk to human health. The length of time that the breaches spanned was an aggravating feature, as was the history of non-compliance.
However in mitigation the judge took into account character references provided and found that Colson Transport was a responsible waste management operation. The judge found that there was no financial gain to Colson Transport or to Colson as a result of the permit breaches.
Colson Transport and Colson were fined £38,000 and costs of £33,000. Following the hearing, environment officer Everal Burrell said: “The Environment Agency works hard to protect people and the environment while supporting the majority of businesses that operate responsibly.
"This case demonstrates that we will take action against those who do not operate their business within the confines of relevant regulations. We hope this case will serve as an example and a warning for other operators to take their responsibilities seriously. We are determined to take actions against those who don’t.”