Whittlesey company in liquidation fined £ 26,800
A family-owned wood recycling business was put into liquidation just weeks before a court fined it £ 26,800 and costs £ 29,000 for ‘reckless’ health and safety violations.
East Anglian Resources Ltd was based in the industrial area of Benwick Road, Whittlesey, and run by the Tribe family.
However, the company went out of business ahead of the court ruling and an early assessment by a liquidator shows unsecured creditors owe more than £ 1.4million.
The lawsuits were brought by the Environment Agency, which said the company had not managed the risk of fire and dust containment at its site.
“Emissions impacted on neighboring businesses and a fishing lake,” says the agency.
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The recycled waste scattered on the site has since been evacuated, more than a dozen employees made redundant and the owners of the estate have re-let the premises to a logistics company.
East Anglian Resources had pleaded guilty in a previous hearing before Peterborough magistrates to breaching two conditions of its environmental license.
This has enabled it to store and process up to 30,000 tonnes of wood waste for recycling per year.
On June 17 the company was sentenced in absentia to Huntingdon magistrates and fined £ 26,800, plus costs of £ 29,110.18 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 170.
The Sheraton District Judge ruled that the company had committed reckless offenses, which continued for a long time.
Environmental Agency officials visited the wood waste recycling site more than 30 times after the permit was issued from 2016 to November 2018.
They found that the waste wood piles were often too large and too close together, posing a serious risk of spontaneous combustion fires.
“The company had a fire prevention plan in place but did not persistently comply with it,” the Environment Agency said.
The license was suspended three times to force the company to comply “but this had limited effect”.
The officials noted that the dusty material was allowed to accumulate and the dust was not removed.
Dust escaped from the site on several occasions “affecting people working in nearby businesses and visitors to a nearby fishing lake”.
Director James Tribe explained that at the time, the business was heavily dependent on a customer taking 80 percent or more of their waste.
When this client’s site was closed, waste was piling up on the site in huge piles.
He admitted the garbage piles were huge, but said they never had a fire. He said they had tried to find alternative outlets and had done their best.
Mr Tribe admitted their activities created dust, but felt they were managing it properly as part of their dust management plan.
Claire Parker of the Environment Agency said many officers have tried to work with East Anglian Resources over the years.
They had hoped to get the company to improve its operations and minimize its impact on neighboring businesses, residents and the local environment.
She said: “Unfortunately, despite our advice and guidance, our warnings and the temporary suspension of its license, the company has continued to cause nuisance dust and litter to its neighbors.
“And they have continued to operate in a manner that presents an unacceptable fire risk.”
Ms. Parker added: “Taking legal action is always our last resort.
“But in this case, we felt that a lawsuit was in the public interest because of the significant and prolonged negative impact this company has had on its neighbors and the environment.”
Director Bobby Tribe told the newspaper that part of the blame for the company’s demise was the late payment of its customers.
“After eight years in business, we simply ran out of money,” he said.
Mr Tribe said a meeting was called in late March when they realized “the business cannot be saved”.
He said the business “started with £ 10,000 and a dream”. He worked with his father and brother to develop the business
Mr Tribe said luckily he still had his family but now he would have to “go out and find some more work”.