Men arrested and fuel laundering plant shut
Three men have been arrested and a suspected fuel laundering plant shut down as part of a UK-wide HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigation into a suspected multi-million pound fraud.
More than 50 HMRC officers, supported by North Wales Police and Police Service of Northern Ireland, carried out simultaneous searches of nine business and four residential addresses in Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Manchester, Surrey, Gloucestershire, Devon and Northern Ireland.
A suspected fuel laundering plant was taken apart in south Armagh where 22,500 litres of fuel was seized, along with 3,100 litres of marked gas oil, 350 litres of kerosene, 12,700 litres of lubricant, two trucks, a caddy van and a forklift.
The suspected laundering plant had the capacity to produce about 20m litres of illicit fuel a year, with the potential to evade £11m in revenue. In the Greater Belfast area 6,500 litres of suspected laundered fuel was recovered from a retail site.
The men arrested were questioned by HMRC and have been released pending further inquiries. Investigations are ongoing. HMRC fraud investigation service assistant director Tracey Noon said: “The illicit trade in laundered fuel is a serious crime and one we are determined to detect and disrupt.”
Operator dumped waste on farmland
A waste operator has been ordered to pay more than £6,650 for disposing of thousands of tonnes of waste illegally on farmland near Exeter.
Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard how Roger Baker, of Bovey Tracey, Devon, imported 7,514 tonnes of inert waste on a field at Poltimore, Exeter under the guise of “drainage” works. This amount of waste exceeded that permitted under an authorisation, issued by the Environment Agency, known as a U1 waste exemption.
A U1 exemption enables waste to be reused without the need for an environmental permit but sets a maximum tonnage limit of 1,000 tonnes for soil and sub-soil. The waste - collected from development sites around Exeter - was used to level off a significant part of the site, altering the character of the field and the surrounding landscape.
The defendant failed to comply with the conditions of his U1 waste exemption and also failed to secure planning permission from Devon County Council. Baker pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 38 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 and was fined £1,710 and told to pay £4,946 costs.
The court also ordered Baker to remove and appropriately dispose of the waste he had illegally imported within 12 months. Richard Tugwell for the Environment Agency, which brought the case, said: “This was a serious abuse of a U1 waste exemption which had a significant impact on the Devon landscape.
“People who use waste exemptions must ensure they comply with them and obtain appropriate planning permission.”