Kilroe pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to the unlawful operation of three waste sites, in Stockport, Salford and Warrington Docks. Williams pleaded guilty to two charges; one relating to the Salford site for storing waste in excess of its 10,000 tonne capacity, the second charge was for operating the Warrington site without an Environment Agency permit. Davies pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the Stockport site where he failed to provide and implement an adequate environmental management system.
The Environment Agency said its investigation identified the unlawful operation and mismanagement of the three sites. Excessive amounts of waste were imported on to the sites which breached their environmental permits, and the defendants failed to comply with enforcement and suspension Notices.
A major fire broke out in August 2013 at the J25 Recycling Ltd site in Bredbury, Stockport that lasted for 41 days. The manner in which the site was managed is reported to have increased the impacts the fire caused to the environment and local community. The fire resulted in the closure of the M60 Motorway and three weeks of disruption to traffic as well as disruption to local residents and businesses. A nearby river is said to have been polluted by the fire-fighting water run-off.
A fire also broke out in March 2014 at the Recovered Fuels Shipping Ltd site in Salford. This led to Network Rail closing the railway line in Salford. Local roads were closed and main routes to Manchester City Centre were also closed. Again, the manner in which the site was operated increased the impacts of the fire, which lasted for 19 days. It is reported to have caused severe disruption to local residents and businesses which were affected by smoke and ash. Kilroe failed to remove the waste following the fire, leaving the landowner to remove over 14,000 tonnes.
Further waste was also transferred to Asset and Land Group Ltd at Warrington Docks, next to the Manchester Ship Canal. The Environment Agency’s modelling also advised that a fire at the site would have affected the Ship Canal, West Coast Railway, and also flights in and out of Manchester and Liverpool airports. According to the Environment Agency, there would have been a significant effect on UK plc as industry from Manchester to Liverpool would have shut. There is still reported to be a significant financial impact to the landowner who now has to pay to clear the site which has an estimate of 75,000 tonnes of waste to clear with a cost in excess of £10 million to send to landfill.
Lee Rawlinson, area director for Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire at Environment Agency, said: “This is one of the biggest cases the Environment Agency has prosecuted, we have been committed to do so because of the severity of the offence and cost and impact on the environment, communities and business. It has resulted in significant financial impacts to legitimate businesses."
Following this case the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has invested in an aerial imagery reconnaissance (AIR) unit. Now working in partnership with the Environment Agency Enforcement Team they use the remote controlled AIR unit to take pictures and videos of waste sites and to detect elevated heat sources within waste piles.