John Veale of Kangs Solicitors follows his review of the regulatory regime of the waste management industry with a consideration of the types of investigation that may lead to criminal charges and the individuals who may be exposed to prosecution.
How Does An Investigation Start? | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
Investigations can be commenced following a complaint from a number of sources including:
- a member of the public who is affected by fumes/bad smells/ fly infestations or similar health hazards
- landowners who have been affected by the dumping of waste on their land
- another waste operator who has witnessed the burial of waste on a site where disposal is not permitted
- a Local Authority may become aware that planning permission has not been obtained prior to the commencement of waste operations or it may have received a complaint from the public.
The Environment Agency (EA) frequently carry out unannounced site visits and may also commence an investigation in respect of any site which is not being operated in accordance with the relevant Permit or any allowed Exemptions.
The EA is involved in issuing Permits and approving Exemptions and will, therefore, usually be aware of any breaches.
Examples of EA Investigations | Kangs Solicitors Defending Waste Operators
- The burying of waste in a quarry which is not compatible with the existing waste transfer station permitted only to sort and recycle specific waste.
- The delivery of bales of waste which are not sorted and recycled as contracted but are simply dumped elsewhere.
- The commencement of waste operation has commenced without Planning Permission or Permits resulting in complaints from the landlord of the site and members of the public.
- The storage of waste outside the confines of a waste transfer station or on a permeable service inviting the risk of pollutants leaching into a water course.
Investigatory Powers of the EA | Solicitors Defending EA Prosecutions
The EA will carry out as many site visits as considered necessary to control the unsatisfactory operation and will probably issue a Compliance Assessment Form detailing any observations and corrective action required.
During any visit the EA may exercise such procedures considered necessary including:
- taking photographs
- taking samples
- digging test pits
- requesting and obtaining documentation
- conducting aerial surveys
and can, given its wide ranging powers, immediately close a site should it be considered, for example, that there is a risk of pollution and/or danger to the public.
Following site visits and the gathering of potential evidence, the EA may invite the Operator of the site for an interview under caution.
An Operator could be interviewed in regard to any personal liability, in regard to the liability of any company or business involved in the operation or management of the site or in regard to both.
EA investigations can last for a number of years and, even after an interview under caution, it may be a very long time before any decision is made as to whether or not criminal charges are to be brought.
Who Can Be Prosecuted by the EA? | Environment Agency Solicitors
The law allows the EA to prosecute:
- director(s), or owner(s) of the business running the waste operation
- any company registered at Companies House, or any unincorporated body and others such as a landlord who has rented out the land
- an individual working on a site whose culpability would be greater if that person is the site manager or holder of a WAMITAB qualification.
How Can We Help You? | Kangs Solicitors
The examples shown above are taken from some of the investigations in which we have been involved.
We are able to assist you:
- Formulate a reply to any Notices served by the EA
- Deal with any general enquiries from the EA
- Advise you on the regulatory regime and requirements that govern your business
- Advise you on the steps to take to ensure that your business is compliant with the EPR
- Represent you at any interviews under caution with EA officers
- Defend any prosecution brought by the EA for any regulatory breaches
How Can I Contact You For Help? | Kangs Solicitors
We have a proven track record in dealing with the above matters and we welcome you contacting our team of solicitors through the following, who will be happy to discuss your situation with you.
Related Articles | Solicitors Defending Environment Agency Cases
Below is a selection of related articles relating to our work on Environment Agency Cases: