A Cornish waste disposal business has been ordered to pay nearly £80,000 in fines and costs for illegally storing and treating waste at a site near Penzance without a permit.
On 10 April, Truro Crown Court was told how the waste stored by Les Allen Waste Disposal Services at the Perranuthnoe site included asbestos. The court was also told how the business operated without a permit despite receiving advice from the Environment Agency and owner Leslie Allen assuring officers he would apply for a permit.
Allen was fined £40,000 for two offences under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, including operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit at The Workshop, Perranuthnoe Lane, Perranuthnoe and on land adjacent to Sunnyvale Farm, Rosudgeon, Penzance.
Allen was ordered to pay £14,200 costs and £25,772 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was warned that a failure to pay would result in a nine-month prison sentence.
The court also fined site manager Richard Shore £4,000 for the same offences, with £2,000 in costs.
The investigation into the firm was launched by the Environment Agency in 2014 after officers suspected it was operating the waste site illegally. The transfer of waste was not always recorded and when it was, the records were either inadequate or misleading. The site was used for waste, including asbestos, from various commercial and domestic sources.
The agency found waste was recorded as being taken from a customer directly to an approved site when it was actually being transported to Perranuthnoe.
The court heard the business, which holds an O-licence for up to four vehicles, benefited financially from operating without a proper permit. It was in the course of the investigation that officers recovered asbestos from a pile of waste. It had not been bagged or stored securely in a container, as the law requires.
Judge Carr, sentencing Allen and Shore, said the handling of asbestos was a “great responsibility” and the defendants had exposed both themselves and others to risk. The judge added that the poor record-keeping meant nobody would know what other waste had gone through the site.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “Waste sites must operate within the law and always put human health and the environment above financial gain. This is especially important for sites receiving hazardous waste such as asbestos.
“Despite being given repeated advice and guidance by the Environment Agency, the owner chose to operate illegally, receiving, handling and storing waste without a permit."
By David Harris