landfill companies have been prosecuted for blighting the community in Blaydon – with one of them fined over £70,000.
The prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency following an investigation that found the companies were in breach of an environmental permit
A ‘cliff face’ of waste, reaching approximately 15 metres high, was found during an investigation.
Two companies that caused misery for residents when litter and smells escaped from Blaydon Landfill in Gateshead have been sentenced in a case brought by the Environment Agency.
Octagon Green Solutions Ltd and director Kevin John Wanless, 50, of Lead Road, Blaydon, Gateshead, and Recyclogical Ltd of Newbold Terrace, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, all appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday 21 March.
They pleaded guilty to a series of offences relating to litter in June 2018, accepting too much waste on to site in the same year and odour issues in February 2019.
Recyclogical Ltd was ordered to pay more than £70,000 in fines and costs, while Octagon Green Solutions Ltd was fined £1,800 and its director Kevin Wanless £450.
Andrew Turner, Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in the North East, said:
“Our officers have persisted through difficult hurdles and legal challenges to bring this case to court showing our commitment to taking robust action against those who flout the law.
“I clearly remember the distress suffered by local residents due to the actions of these companies and I’m pleased they have now been sentenced.
“Environmental permits and associated odour and litter management plans are there to protect the community and environment and I hope this case reassures people that we take breaches seriously and those involved can expect enforcement action.”
In 2013 Blaydon Landfill site was purchased by Octagon Green Solutions (OGS), which had one director, Kevin Wanless. The site operated under an environmental permit which allowed for a non-hazardous landfill operation and includes both odour and litter management plans. In April 2017 operation of the site passed to Recyclogical Ltd but OGS remained the permit holder.
In June 2018, after Storm Hector wreaked havoc across the north, an Environment Agency officer visited the site after receiving calls about litter escaping. He saw mainly plastic litter strewn across hedgerows, in fields and in people’s gardens.
On inspection he found the site had decided to still operate despite the storm, accepting 53 loads of waste. The netting to prevent litter escaping was not correctly positioned and had large holes in it.
A few days later the officer went back to site to check on their end of day procedures and found waste was uncovered – a requirement of the permit is to cover waste at the end of each day to reduce the risk of odours developing. Director Kevin Wanless contacted the EA with an action plan to deal with the issues.
Blaydon landfill’s permit allowed it to accept a total of 409,000 tonnes of waste per year. In November 2018 an Environment Agency officer noted it was close to exceeding its totals and told the site to stop accepting waste until the New Year.
Despite this, waste was still being accepted in December 2018. In total the site accepted 487,368 tonnes of waste - 19% more than permitted. This was described by Wanless as an oversight.
In February 2019, after complaints from local residents about odour coming from the site, an Environment Agency officer attended and found odour could be detected as far as 1km away.
During a site visit the officer could see the waste was unsuitably positioned, visibly reaching approximately 15 metres high and described as a ‘cliff face’, and was not covered. The officer suspended the site’s permit until they had covered the waste already on site.
The defendants stated in mitigation that the site had historically been problematic when run by previous operators. Recycological acquired a new owner in 2020 and efforts had been made by their new owner to engage with the community. The court ruled that the defendants’ actions had been negligent and the offences were aggravated by the site’s location close to housing and the lengthy period of time over which the problems persisted.
The Blaydon Quarry landfill site was closed to waste deposits in September 2021. You can find out more about the closure process here: Blaydon Quarry Landfill, Newcastle upon Tyne - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)