Company fined for waste spill on Ring Road
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Construction and waste management firm Smiths of Gloucester were fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs totalling £18,336 and a £15 victim surcharge at a hearing which concluded at Northavon Magistrates Court on January 24.
The prosecution was brought under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and relates to a breach in the company’s duty of care in that it did not take all reasonable steps to prevent waste escaping from its lorries travelling along the Ring Road in South Gloucestershire. Envirocrime officers carried out a two-week awareness raising campaign targeting vehicles during March 2010 and it was during this operation that Smiths of Gloucester vehicles were stopped on five separate occasions after waste was recorded escaping from the tops of their vehicles.
Three of the company’s drivers were also asked to pay costs. Rodney Burford was found guilty on two counts of failing to take reasonable measures to prevent the escape of controlled waste from his vehicle and was given a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £400 costs.
Roger Harper was found guilty on one count of failing to take reasonable measures to prevent the escape of controlled waste from his vehicle and was given a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £200 costs.
Alun Williams was found guilty on two counts of failing to take reasonable measures to prevent the escape of controlled waste from his vehicle and was given a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £400 costs.
The case highlighted inadequacies in the company’s netting system and the mesh used to cover their loads and envirocrime officers found rips and gaps when they stopped the vehicles during the two-week crackdown. The prosecution also identified inadequacies in procedures carried out by the drivers to ensure the load was properly enclosed before setting off on their journeys. The company was also criticised for failing to monitor whether these procedures were being followed.
As a council, we spend £50,000 a year cleaning up litter and waste from the Ring Road which is dropped from cars and lorries and as a result we have been carrying out regular checks of the area to raise awareness and clamp down on this sort of activity.
Cllr James Hunt, executive member for communities, said: “We spend tens of thousands of pounds each year cleaning up litter from the Ring Road which is a burden to our council tax payers as they bear the brunt of these costs. On top of this, we also have to close off parts of this busy road at certain times of the year in order to carry out the clean up operation safely. We will continue to monitor this stretch of road and any individuals or companies who continue to blight our environment will be treated with the same zero tolerance approach highlighted by this case.
“This case should also emphasise the importance to companies to have clear policies and procedures in place backed with checks and balances to ensure that equipment designed to keep waste in the vehicles is maintained to a high standard, and that loads are checked carefully before taking to the road, to ensure that waste cannot escape.”
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