Skip hire firm hit with huge bill after admitting it broke environmental rules

Waste piled high at the ETA site
Waste piled high at the ETA site

A Wigan borough company and its boss have been ordered to pay nearly £22,000 for repeatedly flouting eco-laws and warnings.

ETA Skip Hire and Thomas Poole must stump up the cash in fines and costs after an Environment Agency prosecution at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.

The Environment Agency found evidence of waste being burnt at the site

The Environment Agency found evidence of waste being burnt at the site

Each pleaded guilty to illegally operating a waste disposal, treatment and storage facility on the Leigh Trading Estate without the relevant environmental permits.

ETA, whose HQ is in Manchester, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £4,922 and a Victim surcharge of £180. MD Poole was fined £1,600 and must pay a victim surcharge of £160.

The agency brought the case after giving extensive advice and guidance to stop operating the illegal site or obtain the necessary permit.

During the charging period (Aug 2018 to April 2019) ETA operated from the site, offering skips for hire, returning them to the trading estate where the contents were emptied and sorted without the benefit of an Environmental Permit or relevant waste exemption.

The company and Poole continued to operate the illegal site and even went as far as burning waste to avoid paying fees for proper legal disposal at a permitted site.

In August 2018 Environment Agency officers visited the site after reports of possible illegal waste activity.

It was on this visit that officers were told by Mr Poole that neither he nor the company had an environmental permit to operate.

Officers advised him to stop operating and remove the waste and he was told how to apply for a permit.Further inspections and advice was given then in November 2018 officers saw evidence of a fire on site and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were called.

Fire crews were also called on 12 other occasions by neighbouring businesses who reported blazes there. GMFRS estimated the cost of this to be approximately £8,700.

On December 11 2018 the EA served notice on ETA Skip Hire Ltd to remove the waste. Officers inspected the site on December 21 2018 and waste was still present. The site was again inspected again three times in January 2019, where waste activities continued.

Mark Easedale, an area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency are committed to prosecuting when an offence has been committed.

“In this case the defendants had consistently failed to respond to advice and guidance, warnings and statutory notices requiring steps to be taken to improve operations at the site.

“Illegal waste sites undercut legitimate business, can cause severe damage to the environment and misery for local residents and businesses. We are determined to make life hard for criminals.

“We support legitimate business and we are pro-actively supporting them by disrupting and stopping the criminal element. We would like to remind all landowners and occupiers that, they may be required to clear waste which has been deposited illegally, on their land, at their own expense and may be prosecuted if they fail to do so.

“If you have any suspicions that waste is being deposited on your land please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or the police as soon as possible.”

In mitigation Mr Jonathon Bell, solicitor for both defendants, confirmed that the site had been cleared and that the defendants had entered guilty pleas at the first available opportunity.

The chair of the bench told an ETA representative: “When the company was set up you did not exercise reasonable and due diligence regarding the necessary permissions that were required.

“There followed numerous visits from the Environment Agency and advice was given which was ignored. In carrying out your activities as described there was the obvious risk to the environment and local community and the necessity for many call-outs by the fire brigade.

“We accept that the site is now cleared but however it is the responsibility of a director of a company to ensure that those employed carry out their duties in accordance with legal requirements.”