In its recent Judgement in the case of R v Lucy Mete, the Court of Appeal stated that it will not interfere with custodial sentence imposed following conviction for breaches of Regulations relating to Environmental permits.
Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors comments upon this case.
Kangs Solicitors has very substantial experience dealing with cases involving the waste disposal industry and instances of alleged breaches of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 (i.e. breaches of the terms of the Environmental Permits).
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The Law | Kangs Environmental Law Defence Solicitors
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 contain:
- Regulation 12(1)(a) which requires a permit for the purpose of operating any regulated facility including a waste operation.
- Regulation 38(1)(a) which makes it a criminal offence to cause or knowingly permit the contravention of Regulation 12.
Environment Agency Investigations | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
- The Environment Agency has a number of powers within its remit which are being increased regularly. For example, The Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 empowered the Regulator to apply to a court for a Restriction Order to prohibit access to and prevent the importation of waste into premises.
- An independent review of waste crime in 2018 concluded that the Environment Agency’s powers should be expanded further.
- The Environment Agency has powers of entry and search, to remove documents and to take samples. The Environment Agency can vary or revoke Environmental Permits, serve Notices such as Enforcement or Suspension, remove risk, recover costs and require the provision of information.
R v Lucy Mete | The Circumstances | Kangs Environmental Crime Solicitors
- Lucy Mete owned part of a site near Chartham in Kent which she controlled with her father and sister.
- Between October 2014 and April 2016, in excess of 40,000 cubic metres of waste was deposited on the land with companies depositing the waste being charged between £90 and £100 a load, being about half the rate charged by licensed waste facilities.
- This trading was determined to amount to a waste operation for which the Mete family did not hold a permit.
- The Environment Agency brought charges against all three members of the Mete family and Lucy Mete was convicted in her absence at the Magistrates’ Court and subsequently sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court where the Sentencing Judge took into account the following as aggravating features:
- the scale of the operation;
- the effect of 40,000 cubic metres of waste on the area;
- the environmental damage that had been caused and the significant clean-up costs in the region of £500,000;
- the undercutting of those who ran properly regulated waste operations.
- The Judge imposed an immediate custodial sentence of 26 weeks.
- Lucy Mete appealed to the Court of Appeal submitting that the sentence was excessive, especially compared to her sister who received a suspended sentence and that her actions were reckless rather than deliberate.
The Court of Appeal did not agree; stating that the Sentencing Judge was right to conclude that she had deliberately permitted the operation of the waste facility and that the categorisation of offending within the guidelines was right. Her appeal against sentence was dismissed.
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Our experience extends to all parts of England & Wales and we pride ourselves on taking positive and proactive measures to assist our clients from the outset of any investigation by the Environment Agency.
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