Clifford Shee was successfully prosecuted by the Environment Agency (EA) in a hearing on 30 October at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court. His combined fines and costs totalled £12,919.
Shee, who ran his operation from a site on Durham Road in Birtley, was prosecuted for operating outside the requirements of three exempt waste activities.
He was found to be illegally storing mixed waste on site, containing general waste and foodstuffs; storing hazardous waste inappropriately; and failing to keep accurate and correct details of waste transfer documentation between September 2017 and February 2018.
The magistrates particularly condemned his failure to safely store 99 45-gallon drums containing polluting, hazardous and combustible waste. The drums were located near a ditch that runs into Rowletch Burn and sits only a short distance from the main North to South railway line.
The drums were initially fly-tipped on Shee’s property, but he failed to take appropriate steps to remove them and instead stored them outside for several years without any regard for the spillage or fire risks they presented.
Shee ignored all of the advice given to him by the EA and deliberately continued to operate his waste company in breach of the law.
Jonathan Stirland, acting on behalf of the defendant, told magistrates that Shee had gaps in his knowledge about operating the site and wanted to undertake training.
He also said Shee intended to remove some of the offending waste from the site but was prevented by a faulty clutch on one of his vehicles. Additionally, he had not known what to do with the 99 drums of waste.
The magistrates called Shee’s actions “reckless at the very least” and found his behaviour deliberate, telling him “you knew what you did was wrong and you did it for a long time”.
Jamie Fletcher, area environment manager for the EA, said: “Our role as regulator aims to help protect the public, residents and the environment from situations that may potentially cause serious harm.
“The successful prosecution and level of fine shows how the EA is always looking to clamp down on unlawful activities, and will seek to bring to justice those individuals and businesses who aim to bend the rules.”