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Prison sentence for 550,000 illegal tyres

A Malvern man  has been sentenced  (24 March) to a total of 12 months imprisonment for depositing and storing controlled waste -namely used tyres – illegally at his workplace and home.
Mark Alexanda Smith, aged 43, pleaded guilty at Worcester Crown Court on 13 January 2010 to three charges relating to the illegal deposit and keeping of controlled waste.
The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Mr Smith was sentenced to four months imprisonment for each of the three offences to run consecutively.
For the Environment Agency, barrister Kevin Slack told the court that Mr Smith carried out unauthorised deposits and keeping of used tyres at two locations; the first was at Blackmore Park Industrial Estate and the second at The Homestead, Guarlford, both in Malvern.
Mr Smith had been advised by Environment Agency officers in 2003 that a Waste Management Licence was required to continue his business operations legally. However, he failed to obtain such a licence and continued depositing and storing tyres illegally. In November 2005, Mr Smith’s company Mark Smith Tyres Ltd went into liquidation and at this time Mr Smith left Blackmore Park Industrial Estate. He left behind approximately 450,000 waste tyres that continue to be stored at Blackmore Park Industrial Estate.
The liquidation of Mark Smith Tyres Ltd did not stop Mr Smith’s business activities because he thereafter continued to trade as a new business, storing approximately 100,000 waste tyres at his home, The Homestead, Malvern. Again, he did not hold a Waste Management Licence permitting him to do this. When Environment Agency officers visited The Homestead in 2007, Mr Smith ignored requests to attend for an interview under caution and failed to comply with notices requiring removal of the tyres from the property.
Speaking after the case Terry Broadbent, the Environment Agency Officer who led the investigation said: “The Environment Agency will not hesitate to take the appropriate sanctions against offenders who operate large scale waste facilities without the appropriate registered permits. As part of the investigation 56 Garages were investigated under the Duty of Care Regulations which resulted in 50,000 tyres being removed from The Homestead by the producers of the waste to a suitable licensed facility at their cost. All producers of controlled waste should ensure that they only give their waste to registered waste carriers who use Duty of Care waste transfer notes and most importantly ensure that their waste is going to a permitted or exempt facility”.
In mitigation, Counsel for Mr Smith stated that his client had genuinely believed that the tyres did not constitute waste as the tyres had a commercial value to him. It was contended that Mr Smith had exported used tyres for reuse in countries that had less stringent minimum tyre tread depth requirements than the UK. Other tyres were baled with the intention of being sold to the construction industry.  
"As such this was not a case of wilful dumping but a situation where a genuine business was being operated.
 It was submitted that there was no risk posed to the environment either by chemical leaching from the tyres or from spontaneous combustion and that the tyres were essentially inert. In these circumstances, the harm to the environment was limited to the visual impact caused by the tyres. "     
 In his sentencing remarks, the judge HHJ Hooper QC stated that by depositing this waste, Mr Smith was guilty of causing “real environmental affront” and that the offences plainly crossed the custody threshold.      
MORE INFORMATION Contact Emily Poyser or Lyn Fraley
on 0121 711 5855/5829
(these numbers can also be used during an emergency to contact a duty press officer)

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