Serious waste offences

Waste offences in Darlington have resulted in a Darlington man been given a two-year community order to incorporate 20 rehabilitation activity days and 300 hours unpaid work after magistrates in Middlesbrough sentenced him for serious waste offences.  He was also disqualified from acting as a company director for three years and ordered to pay £490 costs.

John Burnside Jones (26), of Coniscliffe Road, Darlington was sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Friday 2 September 2022 having previously pleaded guilty to involvement in illegally misdescribing waste for financial gain.

Serious waste offences
Courtesy of the Environment Agency

Environment Agency officers visited Jones’ waste operation at the Trinity Works site in Haverton Hill, Billingham in January 2019. They found the business to be processing large volumes of waste types which the site’s environmental permit did not allow. The site was also found to lack the required management systems to deal with the environmental risks. Jones was served with notices requiring details of the site’s waste but failed to respond to these in full.

Further investigations by the Environment Agency revealed that between September 2018 and February 2019, over 6,000 tonnes of unpermitted, combustible waste had been transported to the site from as far away as Bristol. Jones had then transported more than 11,000 tonnes of inert waste soils to a nearby landfill site during the same period. The discrepancy between the volumes of incoming and outgoing waste was a result of Jones mixing incoming waste with soil and stones left from previous site operations and falsely describing this resulting mixture as inert waste.

Inert waste incurs significantly lower landfill tax per tonne and may also be disposed of at a much-reduced rate at landfill facilities without the same level of safeguards and protections as would otherwise be required. By fraudulently misdescribing the waste, Jones was able to make large sums of money by flouting his environmental obligations.

In mitigation, Jones stated that although his company had operated the site, he had limited direct involvement and had been very naïve in relying upon others to run the site for him. He had never previously been in trouble and fully co-operated with the investigation. He admitted that he had never seen the site’s environmental permit and was oblivious to its requirements.

The court ruled that the offending was deliberate and committed for financial gain. At an earlier hearing the permit holder James William Mason, 64, of Camden Street, Stockton-on-Tees had pleaded guilty to allowing the illegal waste activities to be undertaken on his site and was ordered to pay a total of £2,528 in fines and costs.

The conditions of an environmental permit are designed to protect people and the environment. Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment, undermine local legitimate environmental permit holders, put jobs at risk and cause misery for local communities.

We welcome sentencing by the Court, which should act as a deterrent to others considering flouting the law.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency

In most situations waste can only be kept on land if there is an environmental permit in place.  The permit will contain a number of conditions which must be observed in order to protect the environment.  Failure to comply with the conditions of an environmental permit is a criminal offence which can be committed by the permit holder as well as the person conducting the activities if they are different.  Any transfer of waste from one party to another must be accompanied by a controlled waste transfer note which accurately describes the waste and contains the relevant six-digit waste category code. 

If you require advice or support for your waste business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.

TCM attendance changes

The Environment Agency has published the results of a consultation on TCM attendance changes.  The Environment Agency consulted with stakeholders to hear their views on proposed options and changes to the attendance requirements for technically competent managers (TCMs).

The consultation explained:

  • how the current technical competence attendance requirements work
  • options for proposed changes to the methods of calculating TCM attendance and other proposed changes to the attendance requirements
  • proposed implementation timescales

The responses to the TCM attendance changes consultation will help shape a second, more detailed consultation.  This will provide further details for option 1: attendance linked to charge bands, and other rules associated with the attendance requirements for technically competent managers.  The EA aim to publish the next consultation in summer 2023.

The EA received a broad range of views which will help develop guidance on the attendance requirements for technically competent managers.  The EA received 75 responses to the consultation:

  • 32 from site operators and companies with permits
  • 18 from trade associations and other organisations and groups
  • 12 from consultants
  • 5 from local authorities
  • 8 from individuals and members of the public

Those responding generally agreed that new guidance was needed to explain the attendance requirements for TCMs and provided views on the 3 options preferred for calculating the attendance requirements:

  • option 1: attendance linked to charge bands – 36%
  • option 2: standard baseline attendance for all waste facilities – 16%
  • option 3: tailored baseline attendance for waste operations and waste installations – 30.67%
  • no preference – 14.67%
  • Two respondents (2.67%) did not provide an answer to this question.

Many of those responding highlighted the potential for environmental benefits should TCM attendance increase at poor performing sites. However, the extent of this benefit would depend on the specific circumstances. Approximately 75% of those responding supported the adjustment of the attendance requirement based on operator performance, with those in deteriorating or poor compliance bands requiring increased TCM attendance.

TCM attendance changes
Changes proposed to TCM attendance requirements at waste sites

Some of those responding stated that applying attendance requirements for the Environmental Services Association (ESA)/Energy & Utility (EU) Skills technical competence scheme would undermine the purpose of this scheme, but there was general support for other proposals on the 48 hour attendance cap, 24 hour operations, multiple regulated facilities and mothballed sites.

For permit transfers, some respondents highlighted situations where transfers were ‘administrative’ and in those instances they did not support previously agreed TCM attendance requirements reverting back to those required by the guidance.

For closed landfills nearly 40% of respondents agreed with the proposals, whilst 50% did not have a view. The Environment Agency concluded that it anticipate the majority of the 50% who did not have a view do not operate activities involving closed landfills.

Most of those who responded did not have a view on the proposals for mobile plant attendance requirements. Around one third supported the proposals on mobile plant and less than 10% disagreed.

Nearly half of respondents supported a 12 month implementation period for the new guidance. Because, for example, this would give operators time to understand the new guidance and train or recruit additional TCMs if required.

The Agency received a broad range of views which will help develop the attendance requirements for TCMs guidance and it intends to launch the next consultation in summer 2023. It will include further details of the favoured option and other proposed changes to the attendance requirements.

Operators who apply for an environmental permit for a waste operation must be members of (and comply with) a government approved technical competency scheme. Most existing waste environmental permit holders must also comply with a government approved technical competency scheme through the conditions in their permits.

For operators that show competence through the scheme run by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board, the Environment Agency requires that sites have nominated technically competent manager(s) on site for a specified amount of time each week – this is called the attendance requirement.

The Environment Agency used to calculate attendance requirements using the OPRA risk appraisal guidance. However, except for the sections relating to attendance levels for technically competent managers, this guidance has been withdrawn.

The Agency is now considering changes to the requirements for attendance by TCMs at environmental permit sites. If you require environmental advice or support for your business, please contact one of the Ashbrooke team.