Boss of waste site fined £1

A WASTE business boss has been fined just £1 for allowing his site to become overflowing with rubbish.

Hartlepool firm Level Six Limited and its director Harold Richardson did nothing as waste piled up to 30 ft high at its Mainsforth Terrace site.

Skip-loads of rubbish continued to roll onto the site while Richardson, 56, was in charge.

But despite repeated visits and warnings from the Environment Agency, the company failed to dispose of the rubbish.

Level Six was hit with the hefty fine at Teesside Crown Court despite the fact the company is currently being wound up.

It was also ordered to pay the Environment Agency £7,269 court costs.

But Richardson was told to pay just £1 after the judge said he was “powerless” to dispose of the rubbish correctly.

An inspection of the site in November 2008 revealed that piles of rubbish were being stored well beyond the areas where it should have been.

Lee Fish, prosecuting, said: “For most of this time, this site was effectively full to the brim with waste.

“The prosecution case is the company benefited financially by conducting its affairs in this way, because the reality is this was simply a tip where waste was being brought on and dumped there and nothing was being done about it.

“This company was given chance after chance to clean up their act and failed to do so.”

Richardson walked away from the management of the site in April 2009.

The court heard that during 2008 and 2009 Level Six lost more than £300,000 because of the recession, and laid off around a third of its staff.

But company accounts revealed Level Six, which also operated other sites, paid more than £750,000 for waste to go to landfill.

Judge Peter Fox said: “With that amount of money being spent, it seems to me they could have directed it in this direction but did not.

“It seems to me the company and those who own it ought to bear the brunt of this court’s displeasure.”

Joseph Hart, mitigating for Level Six, accepted the waste was unsightly but said it was contained and not dangerous.

Brian Hegarty, mitigating for Richardson, said the waste started to pile up after the company got into financial difficulty during the recession.

He said: “He felt powerless to do anything about it. He didn’t have the financial resources in order to clear the site, perhaps unwisely, he walked away.”

Mr Hegarty added Richardson had just £300 in the bank.

Richardson, of South Crescent, Hartlepool, and Level Six admitted breach of an environmental permit between November 2008 and September 2009.

Judge Fox added: “In my view you walked away because you were powerless to do anything about the situation.”

The site is now clear and run by a different company, with no links to Level Six.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “At the moment we are a creditor of the company, as are others.

“We don’t know yet the likelihood how much we are going to recover from this.”