The Environment Agency has prosecuted a company and an individual associated with the company for allowing illegal waste activities to be carried out at the company's business park in Oxfordshire.
Mr David Crossley Cooke was described by the sentencing Judge, HHJ Eccles QC, as the controlling mind of Tapecrown Limited, which owns Chowle Farm, a site off the A420 near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, also known as Faringdon Business Park. The defendants appeared at Oxford Crown Court on Monday 25 January 2016.
Tapecrown Ltd was fined £20,000 with the costs to be determined at a later date. Mr Crossley Cooke was fined £4,000 with costs also to be determined at a later date.
Between April 2010 and June 2013, various waste operations took place at Faringdon Business Park. In particular, a skip hire business operated illegally from the site, and another tenant deposited large quantities of tyres.
All commercial waste activities are regulated by the Environment Agency. Whenever waste is stored or treated, the operator is required to hold an environmental permit or register for an exemption, which is reserved for low-risk waste activities only.
The Court heard that Tapecrown Ltd allowed the storage, treatment and burning of waste at the Faringdon premises without the necessary permits.
Two individuals have already been convicted of waste offences committed at Faringdon Business Park during the charge period. Mr. David Ham pleaded guilty in 2011 to one offence of depositing controlled waste likely to cause pollution to the environment or harm to human health between April 2010 and March 2011, and one offence to operating a regulated facility (a waste transfer station) without an environment permit over the same period. Mr. Wayne Clarke pleaded guilty in December 2012 to one offence of operating a regulated facility (recovering metal components from wheels of vehicles and storing or depositing the tyres) without an environment permit between October 2011 and January 2012.
In July 2013 Mr. Ham pleaded guilty to further offences; one offence of failing to comply with a court order to remove waste from the site and a further offence of keeping controlled waste likely to cause pollution to the environment or harm to human health between June 2012 and January 2013.
Tapecrown Ltd knowingly permitted these waste crimes to be carried out at Faringdon Business Park. The waste operations occurred on the company's land over a prolonged period of time (April 2010 to June 2013). The Environment Agency wrote to the company repeatedly and advised as to what had been witnessed on site and reported by others. David Crossley Cooke was present during many of the visits made by Environment Agency officers; and lives only a few hundred metres away from the site.
Jack Knight of the Environment Agency said: 'It is very disappointing that Mr. Crossley Cooke continued to allow the operation of an illegal site despite having an understanding of his responsibilities'.
'The net is closing in on people who think they can make easy money undercutting legitimate waste businesses by putting the local environment at risk. We are constantly gathering information on illegal waste sites, criminal activities and environmental crime in Oxfordshire and across the south east'.
'We are taking a zero tolerance approach against offenders. In cases like this where individuals consistently operate illegally, we have absolutely no hesitation in prosecuting them as we want to make sure that waste crime doesn't pay'.
'This extends to landowners and their agents who fail to take steps to prevent such offences once they are made aware of them'.