TWO brothers involved with in an illegal waste operation in Todmorden have been sentenced to jail by Bradford Crown Court.
Mark Eric Butterworth, 51, of no fixed address, and his brother Jason Lee Butterworth, 46, of Industrial Street, Todmorden, were sentenced today by His Honour Judge Thomas QC for their involvement in Springwood Trading Ltd, based at Springwood Mill, Pudsey Road, Cornholme, Todmorden.
Mark Butterworth, who did not attend court, was sentenced to a two-year jail term. A warrant is currently out for his arrest.
Jason Lee Butterworth, who did appear in court today, was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
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 trial which ended in March, the court heard that the company had saved around £55,000 by avoiding permit application fees, subsistence fees, and installation of protective infrastructure.
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 Alyson Hoyland, 47, of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, used to be the company secretary and was fined £500 on 12 April for her involvement in the operation. Hoyland 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. The court fined the firm a nominal £1 per charge as a matter of public record.
A fourth defendant involved in the case was sentenced previously. Leanne Wormald, 37, of Underbank Avenue, Hebden Bridge, was handed a 12-month conditional discharge on 7 March after admitting 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.
In passing sentence, His Honour Judge Thomas said: “It was sheer criminality, deliberate, dishonest and motivated by greed. And your attitude is deplorable.
“This case was investigated and prosecuted as well as any I’ve seen. It was painstaking and I was impressed by the officers in court and the investigation. If only other agencies were as efficient the court would be a better place.”
In mitigation, Jason Butterworth said he regrets his actions and that he would sell some assets to help to pay for the cost of the site’s clean-up.
Paul Glasby, Environmental Crime Officer at the Environment Agency, said: “The punishment handed out by the court today reflects the serious nature of the offences committed by Springwood Trading. By operating an illegal waste handling and transfer site in Todmorden without the required environmental permit, the company placed the local community and the environment at risk.
“Illegal operations of this nature undermine 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 also served the brothers with an order to clean up the site, under Section 44 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.