Case Study 1

Case Study 1

 

Biffa to pay out £32,500 over landfill problems

 

Wednesday 07 November 2007 Waste Management News

 

Biffa Waste Services has been ordered to pay £32,500 in court for failing to address residents' complaints about smells coming from a landfill site in Hertfordshire.

 

"The site has caused misery for many people living on the Vicarage Estate." - Clare Richards, Environment Agency

 

The company, which has its head office in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £12,500 costs at Hertford Magistrates' Court yesterday, following the prosecution brought by the Environment Agency.

 

It was found guilty on four counts of breaching the Pollution Prevention and Control licence covering the Westmill Landfill, in Westmill Road, Ware.

 

The case stems back to 2004, when residents on the Vicarage housing estate, near the landfill, complained over smells coming from the site, describing it as "like standing behind a dustcart". An Environment Agency officer visited the site, which was receiving around 1,000 tonnes of waste from 90 lorries each day, and worked with Biffa to put together a site plan for improvements.

 

However, the Agency said complaints remained high so decided to issue the site with an enforcement Notice in November 2004.

 

But when the enforcement notice expired and the Agency found "no improvement" had been made, it took Biffa to court.

 

Retrial

 

Since 2004 a lot has been done, and continues to be done on site, to help ensure that this essential disposal facility causes no serious disruption in the community.

 

Biffa Waste Services

 

The first case in April 2006 was dismissed by the judge, but the Agency then appealed to the Queens Bench Division of the High Court in December 2006, which found in its favour. The retrial was ordered at Hertford Magistrates and took place yesterday.

 

Environment Agency officer Clare Richards said: "This is a great result for the environment and local community, and has been achieved by more than three years persistent hard work by the Environment Agency."

 

She added: "The site has caused misery for many people living on the Vicarage Estate and I have often had residents phone up in tears, frustrated both at the ongoing effect on their lives and at the continual delays in bringing our case to court. However, it has been worth the effort and I believe this will act as an incentive to other operators to take better care of their local environment and community."

 

Regret

 

After the hearing, a Biffa spokesman told letsrecycle.com: "We obviously regret this case and are sorry about the four instances it refers to that were back in November 2004 and January and February 2005.

"Local residents are aware - and this is something that was acknowledged by the district judge - that since 2004 a lot has been done, and continues to be done on site, to help ensure that this essential disposal facility causes no serious disruption in the community," he added.