Waste offences cost businessman £3,250

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A DUMFRIES businessman has been fined £3,250 for waste offences at the town’s Sheriff Court today.

Ashley Ratcliffe, trading as AJR Commercials, pled guilty on 3 April to keeping controlled waste, namely motor vehicles and parts, tyres, engines, carpets, metal, plastic, oil drums and gas bottles; and to failing to remove the controlled waste.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) investigated the matter and a report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal. Sentence was deferred to 16 April for further information.

The land occupied by AJR Commercials has been known to SEPA for a number of years, and has been the subject of numerous public complaints.

In 2010/2011 SEPA ran an initiative known as Operation Willow, aimed at bringing unlicensed end of life vehicle businesses into compliance with environmental legislation.

A number of priority sites were targeted and unannounced inspection visits were made by SEPA in partnership with the Police, DWP, UKBA and HMRC including the British Transport Police in the case of AJR Commercials. AJR Commercials was chosen as a priority site.

Operators were presented with the choice of removing the waste from their site or obtaining the appropriate licence.

A follow-up investigation confirmed that Mr Ratcliffe had failed to apply for the correct authorisation for his site or make any significant progress in removing the waste, leaving SEPA with no option but to report the matter to the Procurator Fiscal.

Yvonne O’Pray, SEPA’s investigating officer, said: “SEPA officers provided Ashley Ratcliffe with advice on how to comply with the relevant legislation on numerous occasions, going as far back as 2002.  He has had ample time to bring his site into compliance, but has never acted on any of SEPA’s advice and has not responded to correspondence. He has shown no inclination to work with SEPA in resolving this issue, no effort to get his site licensed and had made no significant progress in removing the waste.

“The type of waste at Mr Ratcliffe’s site has the potential to cause serious harm to the environment and human health, which is why it’s processing, storage and disposal must be strictly regulated.  Bad waste management and unlawful waste operators undermine the commitment of legitimate sites and businesses, so it is important for us to demonstrate the repercussions of such activity.”

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