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Environment Agency officers visited Bristol and Avon Transport and Recycling Ltd at the old Queen Charlton Concrete Works in Charlton Field Lane in March 2011 after a member of the public reported that waste contaminated with plastic was being brought to the site.
The Court heard that Bristol and Avon Transport and Recycling Ltd had an environmetal permit that allowed it to deposit certain types of controlled waste including soil and stones at the site so it could be returned to Greenbelt land suitable for agriculture. The company was not permitted to import any waste that might cause pollution.
On entering the former concrete works, Agency officers met a man who said his job was to collect waste transfer notes from lorries arriving to tip waste at the site. He didn’t check the waste to ensure it was suitable or sign any waste transfer notes as required under the permit. The man was employed by a neighbouring company that owned the site.
The officers discovered a number of unsuitable wastes including wood, glass, metal, plasterboard, road planings, builders waste and plastic at the site. They also noticed a partially buried bicycle and a quantity of waste ‘fines’. This is the residue left after mixed waste has been screened, usually at a Waste Transfer Station, and consists of small particles of plastic, glass, brick, metal and fibreglass.
None of these materials should have been tipped as the site was only licensed to receive inert waste such as subsoil, topsoil and stones.
In its Waste Recovery Plan for the site, Bristol and Avon Transport and Recycling Ltd stated the restoration of the former concrete works would involve the use of ‘imported excavated materials and topsoil / compost’. It estimated that approximately 56,000 cubic metres of soil would be needed to restore the five hectare site over 18 months.
Inquiries revealed that between 4 January 2011 and 3 March 2011 at least 1,275 lorry loads of waste with a commercial value of approximately £70,000 were tipped at the site. No waste loads were rejected.
Appearing before Bath Magistrates, Bristol and Avon Transport and Recycling Ltd was fined £9,600 and ordered to pay £3,618 costs after pleading guilty to an offence under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
Chris Povey for the Environment Agency commented:
"The defendant is an experienced operator in the waste industry who applied for and was issued with a restoration permit in good faith after providing a detailed permit application. Their subsequent behaviour at this site was at best grossly negligent, and at worst, reckless. They should have known how unsuitable wastes can sometimes be brought to licensed sites, especially by other hauliers, and how important it is to check vehicles and reject any unsuitable consignments of waste."