Waste offences cost firm £22,000

A Norfolk skip company has been ordered to pay more than £22,000 after operating an illegal waste site for over a year.

Benjamin Lemmon, director at Skippy Industries, which holds a restricted licence for four HGVs, told Norwich Magistrate’s Court it had become “a victim of its own success” after pleading guilty to the charge.

The company stockpiled old refrigerators, soiled mattresses, rubble and other mixed waste outside at its operating centre in Setchey, Kings Lynn, where it risked contaminating the nearby river Nar.

In interview, Lemmon admitted he knew he should have sought an amended permit to allow him to lawfully extend the site, but the director said he couldn’t afford it.

He claimed the company had “got too busy for the size of the building”, but the court also heard how Lemmon’s “reckless” actions had undercut other legitimate businesses.

Barrister Mike McGee, defending, told the court that Lemmon had little experience of the waste industry and had done his best to clear the non-compliant waste.

The director was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £8,170 in costs and surcharges.

Scott Cunnington, senior environment officer at the Environment Agency, said: “We hope securing this criminal conviction of a waste operator serves as a wake-up call to other businesses and a reminder that they must stay within the conditions and boundaries outlined by their permits.”

Senior TC updates guidance

Traffic Commissioners

The senior traffic commissioner’s (STC) statutory documents have been refreshed and include changes to how operators and drivers will be treated following bridge strikes.

STC Richard Turfitt has dusted down the 15 guidance documents and updated the way the TCs will approach the exercise of their statutory functions.

Most of the changes have been made to bring the legal position up to date and incorporate recent key upper tribunal cases.

A significant addition relates to bridge strikes in the document on good repute and fitness and it now states: “When incidences are brought to the attention of a traffic commissioner they will wish to consider the culpability of the operator and transport manager and they may be called to attend a public inquiry.

“The driver can also expect to be called to a hearing and may face a period of suspension.”

Bridge strikes and collisions with rail infrastructure have become a serious problem in the last few years, with Network Rail claiming the annual bill is £23m.

An office of the TC spokesman said: “The responsibility for avoiding bridge strikes falls on all operators and transport managers.

“They must make sure routes are planned in advance to reduce the risk of bridge strikes, while giving their drivers all the training and information they need.”

Other changes to the guidance documents include an updated position on driver employment status; applications for periods of grace; the approach to abusive behaviour towards officials and the increased penalties for mobile phone use.”