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Case law: director liable for environmental offences

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  • Publish date: 02 April 2014
  • Archived on: 01 April 2015

Directors duties include respecting environmental law and understanding the extent of potential sanctions. Any concerns raised by outside agencies and authorities must be responded to promptly. Company directors should be aware of environmental taxes and other green legislation.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - April 2014

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

In a recent case, Arcwood Recycling Ltd and a director of the company pleaded guilty to charges relating to the pollution of the Ereswash Canal in October 2012. The company was fined £8,000 with an order to pay £7,500 in costs. The director was given a ten-month custodial sentence and disqualified from being a director for eight years.

The Environment Agency (EA) had noted concerns of poor or non-existent management systems for the site, including stockpiling too much wood for the site to operate properly. A Compliance Assessment Report was sent to the company detailing a breach of permit condition preventing waste being stored for more than three months. Further concerns were raised by, for instance, fire officers and the owners of the site.

In September 2012 a fire started at the site and the fire service fought the fire for some nine days, during which time firefighting water run-off entered the canal killing thousands of fish. More than 6km of canal was affected and the EA spent £200,000 on dealing with the environmental impact.

In the aftermath, the EA served a suspension notice but the director ignored a Regulation 60 Notice which required site information to be provided, and a request to interview him. When he was sentenced, the judge noted that the director had flagrantly disregarded the warnings given by the EA and the fire service. This was reflected in the sentencing, though credit was given for his guilty plea.

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