Recycling firm goes bust ahead of £55,000 court fines and costs
- Credit: © Terry Harris
A family run wood recycling company went into liquidation just weeks before a court fined them £26,800 with £29,000 in costs for “reckless” breaches of health and safety.
East Anglian Resources Ltd were based at Benwick Road industrial estate, Whittlesey, and run by the Tribe family.
However, the company ceased trading before the court judgement and an early assessment by a liquidator shows unsecured creditors to be owed more than £1.4m.
The prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency who claimed the company had failed to manage the risk of fire and containment of dust at its site.
“Emissions impacted on neighbouring businesses and a fishing lake,” says the agency.
Recycled waste strewn across the site has since been removed, more than a dozen employees made redundant, and the estate owners have re-let the premises to a logistics company.
East Anglian Resources had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing before Peterborough magistrates to breaching two conditions of its environmental permit.
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This allowed it to store and treat up to 30,000 tonnes of waste wood for recycling per year.
On June 17 the company was sentenced in its absence at Huntingdon magistrates’ and fined £26,800, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £29,110.18 and a victim surcharge of £170.
District Judge Sheraton found the company was reckless in committing the offences, which continued over an extensive period of time.
Environment Agency officers visited the waste wood recycling site on more than 30 occasions after the permit was issued in 2016 to November 2018.
They found that piles of waste wood were frequently too large and too close together, posing a serious risk of fire by spontaneous combustion.
“The company had a fire prevention plan in place but persistently failed to comply with it,” said the Environment Agency.
The permit was suspended on three occasions to force the company to comply “but this had limited effect”.
Officials noted that dusty material was allowed to accumulate and that the dust was not supressed.
Dust escaped the site on many occasions “affecting people working at neighbouring businesses and visitors to a nearby fishing lake”.
Director James Tribe explained that the company at the time, relied heavily on one customer taking 80 per cent or more of its waste.
On occasions when that customer’s site was closed, waste built up on the site in huge piles.
He accepted that waste piles were massive but said they had never had a fire. He said they had tried to find alternative outlets and had done the best they could.
Mr Tribe accepted that their activities created dust but felt they managed it properly under their dust management plan.
Claire Parker of the Environment Agency said numerous officers had tried to work with East Anglian Resources over the years.
They had hoped to get the company to improve its operations and minimise its impact on neighbouring businesses, residents and the local environment.
She said: “Unfortunately, despite our advice and guidance, warnings and temporary suspension of its permit, the company has continued to cause dust and litter nuisance to their neighbours.
“And they continued to operate in a manner that presents an unacceptable fire risk.”
Ms Parker added: “Taking a prosecution is always our last resort.
“But in this case, we felt that a prosecution was in the public interest due to the significant, and prolonged, negative impact this company has had on its neighbours and the environment.”
Director Bobby Tribe told this newspaper that part of the blame for the company’s demise was late payment by its customers.
“After eight years in business we simply ran out of money,” he said.
Mr Tribe said a meeting was called at the end of March when they realised “the business can’t be saved”.
He said the business “started with £10,000 and a dream.” He worked along his father and brother to build up the business
Mr Tribe said luckily, he still had his family but now would have “to go out and get some more work”.