FOUR people involved with in an illegal waste operation in Todmorden have been convicted of waste crime offences at Bradford Crown Court.
Mark Eric Butterworth, 51, of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, his brother Jason Lee Butterworth, 46, of Industrial Street, Todmorden, Jayne Alyson Hoyland, 47, of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, and Leanne Wormald, 37, of Underbank Avenue, Hebden Bridge, all appeared before His Honour Judge Thomas QC this month for their involvement in Springwood Trading Ltd, based at Springwood Mill, Pudsey Road, Cornholme, Todmorden.
Two investigations carried out by the Environment Agency, in 2010 and 2012, revealed that Springwood Trading was operating a waste transfer station at its Pudsey Road site without an environmental permit or planning permission.
The firm, a registered waste carrier, is permitted to collect skips of waste for delivery to properly regulated waste sites, but covert surveillance revealed waste being taken to and handled at Springwood Mill, where there is no permit in place for waste management.
Investigations revealed that domestic and industrial waste was being sorted and deposited at the site. Environment Agency officers also found waste being illegally stored at another site, at Eldon Street, Todmorden, in October 2010. And during later investigations, skips of waste were stored on public streets so they wouldn’t be seen being taken in and out of Springwood Mill.
During a two-week-long trial which ended yesterday (11 March), the court heard that the company had saved around £55,000 by avoiding permit application fees, subsistence fees, and installation of protective infrastructure.
Central to the company’s operations were Mark Butterworth, his brother Jason, and the company secretary Jayne Hoyland.
Mark Butterworth, who owns the Springwood Mill land and had been running the firm as a director, admitted two counts of knowingly permitting the operation of a waste facility without an appropriate environmental permit. He was also found guilty of four counts of operating a regulated facility without a permit, three counts of depositing controlled waste, and one count of failing to provide waste transfer notes after being served notice to do so.
Mark Butterworth had denied running the firm, claiming that he had not been actively involved with the running of the company at the time of these offences. But key paperwork relating to the company’s operation was found in his bedroom. He also told the court that he had no money to clear the waste from the site.
He had been previously convicted in May 2010 of operating a waste transfer station on the same land during 2007 without a permit, a crime for which he received a suspended prison sentence.
Jason Butterworth admitted five counts of operating a waste facility without a permit, and three counts of depositing controlled waste illegally.
Jayne Hoyland, formerly the company secretary, was found guilty of operating a regulated facility without a permit. She had denied this charge, claiming that she had not been aware of her responsibilities as company secretary. Hoyland was acquitted of a further charge of failing to provide waste transfer notes.
The company itself, Springwood Trading Ltd, was found guilty of two counts of operating a regulated facility without a permit, and one count of failing to provide waste transfer notes after being served notice to do so.
Also convicted at the court was Leanne Wormald, who admitted two counts of permitting a waste operation without an environmental permit. Wormald had only a loose connection to the illegal activities in that she had set up a charity, called the ‘Youth Skills Project’, which was used in an attempt to exempt some of the waste-sorting activities from environmental legislation.
In some cases, charitable organisations may collect and refurbish specific items as detailed in the legislation, such as furniture, bicycles and garden tools, without an environmental permit – but these exemptions do not cover the operations that were going on at Springwood Mill. Organisations must also first register the exemption with the Environment Agency to ensure compliance with the appropriate terms and conditions.
For her part, Wormald was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge on 7 March.
Paul Glasby, Environmental Crime Officer at the Environment Agency, said: “Springwood Trading Ltd operated an illegal waste handling and transfer facility in Todmorden without seeking the required environmental permit. In doing so, the company avoided developing the proper infrastructure required to ensure the protection of the environment and the local community.
“Waste crime puts people and the environment at risk. It undermines legitimate business as well as investment and economic growth that benefit the wider community. The Environment Agency is keen to help businesses meet their environmental obligations, but those who repeatedly flout the rules will be prosecuted.”
The court adjourned sentencing of the Butterworths and Hoyland until 12 April to allow pre-sentence reports to be considered.