Directors and company sentenced for illegal tyre storage

Tyres at the Synergy Tyres site were stored less than ten metres away from homes (Photo: Environment Agency)

A Northamptonshire man who ran illegal waste sites has been given a 12-month suspended prison sentence. He received this sentence last Friday following action taken by the Environment Agency relating to illegal tyre storage.

Andrew Eyre was one of two people and a company to be sentenced. The other man is Eyre John Mullen. Both were joint directors of company IN4 Ltd. until Eyre’s retirement in February 2017, leaving Mullen as sole director.

In a statement regarding the sentencing, the Environment Agency shares that Judge Rupert Mayo of the Northampton Crown Court heard that the pair’s actions could have seriously polluted the environment and risked people’s homes, health and lives.

Under the conditions of its environmental permit, the company was only allowed to keep 84 tonnes of tyres on their site at the Brackmills Industrial Estate. However, in March 2017 Environment Agency inspections found more than 15 times that amount – more than 1,300 tonnes of tyres – stored there. No fire prevention measures were in place. By April, the site had been entirely filled with tyres and abandoned.

Meanwhile, Eyre had set up a second company, Synergy Tyres. He continued to stockpile tyres at the company’s site at the Broad March Industrial Estate in Daventry. He operated without a permit for four months until Environment Agency officers discovered more than 120 tonnes of tyres there in April 2017.

More than 1,300 tonnes of tyres were stored at IN4 Ltd – 15 times more than allowed (Photo: Environment Agency)

The court heard that in May 2017, Eyre applied for exemptions to process up to 40 tonnes of tyres a week without an environmental permit, as long as the site adhered to certain conditions and safety measures. But within a month he had already stockpiled more than twice that limit. The tyres, stored in huge piles with no fire breaks, posed a serious fire risk to homes less than ten metres away, the court was told.

The site was regularly shifting up to 225 tonnes of tyres, according to documents later provided to the Environment Agency – more than five times the limit allowed under the exemptions.

The court heard that over the next six months the company was given advice, guidance and support to bring it in line with the law, but Eyre continued to ignore it. The company’s exemptions were voided in March 2018, effectively revoking its permission to operate.

When interviewed, Eyre claimed he didn’t understand the permitting rules but the court heard he’d been formally cautioned in connection with two other sites in the past. Mullen admitted he knew about the concerns over how his company was operating, but did nothing to resolve them because he hoped it would “sort itself out”.

Sentencing Synergy Tyres (Midland) Ltd and its director Eyre, Judge Mayo said there had been, “a deliberate and flagrant breach in the face of warnings given”. He ordered the company to pay a fine of £11,250 and sentenced Eyre to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months on condition that he stays out of trouble and performs 150 hours of unpaid work.

Mullen was made subject to a six-month community order with a requirement that he complete 15 days of Rehabilitation Activities.

Safety rules deliberately ignored

After sentencing, Rebecca Staff, environment officer at the Environment Agency, said: “It’s very clear that the mismanagement of these sites was no innocent mistake – rather, laws were broken and legitimate businesses undercut simply for the sake of profit.

“These businesses deliberately ignored rules meant to make sure that waste sites are run safely.

“Most worrying of all, people and the environment were put at serious risk. Lives could have been lost if a fire had broken out at either site, as one was mere metres away from homes and the other was connected to industrial units.

“We hope this case sends a message loud and clear – we won’t hesitate to take action against those who put profit above their environmental responsibilities.”

A new taskforce dedicated to tackling serious and organised waste crime – such as dumping hazardous materials on private land and falsely labelling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries – was launched on 16 January.

The Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) will for the first time bring together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency in the war against waste crime.

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