A skip hire company that claimed a fire on its site had been started by a ‘stray firework’, has been ordered to pay £40,000 after aerial photography proved it regularly burned waste
Lincolnshire firm Forceshift and its owner, Ronnie Bennet, pleaded guilty to breaching the company’s environmental permit by burning waste, despite being warned by the Environment Agency that it was illegal to do so.
In November 2010, a large fire covering 600 square metres broke out at Forceshift’s waste transfer site in Westville. While the firm maintained the fire had been started accidently by a firework, it agreed to a new site waste management plan stating that “no material [would] be burnt” and that any fire at the site would be an emergency situation.
However, in 2011 agency inspectors saw flames and plumes of smoke several metres high at the site, and aerial photography taken on four separate occasions confirmed that fires were being lit and that waste, including wood, metal and plastic, was being put on the fires.
Boston Magistrates’ Court heard that the agency found evidence of a further 12 fires at the site between November 2010 and October 2011. Ruby Hamid, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told magistrates that the firm had burnt the waste to save money.
“The burning was deliberate or reckless and [Bennet] and his company were told not to burn but the burning continued,” she told magistrates.
Environment Agency senior manager Norman Robinson said: “Tonnes of waste were burned illegally for months without concern, releasing pollution to air and a smoke plume visible for miles.”
Forceshift and Bennet were fined a total of £26,000 for breaching permitting regulations and Environmental Protection Act 1990, and ordered to pay another £14,000 in costs.