A SKIP hire boss has been landed with hefty court bill after refusing to let Environment Agency officers inspect the source of burning coming from his site.
Michael Peter Allen, of M P Allen Plant Hire, was fined £500 at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of two counts of obstructing two Environment Agency officers in the course of their duties.
The 53-year-old lives in Elizabeth Way, Seaton Carew and operates skip hire and waste disposal services from two units on the Sandgate Industrial Estate in Hartlepool.
He was prosecuted after he prevented two officers from investigating a report of burning materials at the site in on August 29 last year.
When the officers arrived at the industrial estate, Allen showed them around one of his units, where no burning was found.
But when asked for access to a neighbouring unit, from which smoke was seen rising, Allen refused to unlock the gates, preventing the officers from getting in.
Allen, whose company demolished the former Red Lion pub, in the town’s Lancaster Road, claimed the land belonged to the industrial estate.
But inquiries revealed that it was registered to Allen with the Land Registry.
When cautioned, Allen refused to give his full name, address and date of birth.
Shortly afterwards Allen left the site, leaving the unit locked and inaccessible.
From a raised bank, officers saw that the smoke was coming from an incinerator.
There was also a vehicle on the site displaying the logo ‘M P Allen Plant Hire’.
Later, Allen contacted one of the officers to apologise for his behaviour.
He also claimed that he had been burning wood on the site to provide heat for his shed.
Officials from the Environment Agency have welcomed the sentence handed to Allen following his trial, which took place this week.
Representatives from the Environment Agency have warned that illegal burning can have a detrimental impact on local residents and the economy.
They have warned other companies that the practice will not be tolerated.
Dave Edwardson is environmental crime team leader at the Environment Agency.
He said: “Some industrial activities can potentially have a serious impact on the environment and local communities if they are not properly regulated.
“Unlawful activities can also undermine legitimate business, which in itself can have a detrimental impact on the local economy.
“Refusal to co-operate with our officers is an offence and we will take action, where it is deemed appropriate.
“We hope this case demonstrates the seriousness of the offence.”
Allen declined to comment when approached by the Hartlepool Mail.
He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £15.