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Illegal Site Operation fined £80,000

Two waste operators who ran an illegal site in Benfleet have been ordered to pay more than £80,000 in compensation, confiscation and fines.

A1 Bins & Waste Ltd’s director David John Tuffen and manager Nigel Lee Hickman had already been given suspended prison sentences back in February after Chelmsford Crown Court heard that the company illegally stored waste at Towerfields Business Park.

Environment Agency officers found 72 large skips full of asbestos waste at the site during investigations of asbestos fly-tipping around Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent.

Now the two men have been fined £3,000 each for failing in their duty of care to stop the fly-tipping by a subcontracted driver. The driver, Moses Benjamin Brede, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dumping five loads of waste asbestos.

Tuffen, from The Oaks, Billericay, and Hickman from Bryn Coch, Port Talbot were also each ordered to pay £13,841 compensation to landowners who cleaned up the fly-tip sites. Tuffen was also ordered to pay £30,557 and Hickman £16,158 from the proceeds of their crimes.

They were warned by the judge that if they did not pay on time they could go to prison.

At an earlier hearing the court heard that the company had been in financial difficulty towards the end of 2008. Waste asbestos was taken back to the Towerfields yard to bulk it up and store it there.

Mr Sailesh Mehta, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that £427,000 went through the business between April 2008 and February 2009.

After the hearing, the Environment Agency’s environmental crime team leader Lesley Robertson said: “This case should also be a warning to legitimate businesses, to ensure that they fulfil their duty of care when employing a business or person to dispose of their waste, including auditing any paperwork that they should receive for the disposal of the waste – don’t be afraid to ask the necessary questions.”

By Andy West