Court Report Summer 2016

Farmer fined for polluting waterway

A Co Down farmer pleaded guilty and was fined £500 at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court for making a polluting discharge to a waterway.

The court heard that a Water Quality Inspector (WQI), acting on behalf of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) inspected a waterway on the farm and observed it was badly polluted.

The pollution was caused by silage effluent from the silage clamp on the farm seeping and entering the waterway causing it to be polluted for a distance of approximately 900 metres.

A sample taken at the time of the incident confirmed that the discharge contained poisonous, noxious or polluting matter which was potentially harmful to fish life in the receiving waterway.

*Anyone wishing to report a pollution incident can call the 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.


Property Company Fined For Asbestos Breaches

A Belfast-based company has been fined £9,000 plus costs of £1,700 after pleading guilty to three breaches of health and safety legislation.

The case arose following a Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland investigation into an incident when workers were exposed to asbestos fibres during refurbishment of a building.

The property company were contracted to undertake and manage refurbishment of the premises, but the investigation found that prior to the work commencing, itfailed to ensure that asbestos had been identified and dealt with in the premises.

During the refurbishment works, Asbestos Insulation Board (AIB) was broken up and several employees on site were exposed to asbestos fibres that were released.

Speaking after the hearing Kevin Campbell, an inspector with HSENI’s major investigation team, said:“The risks of asbestos are well known. Exposure to asbestos can have serious long-term health consequences and can sometimes lead to death.”


Father and son sentenced for waste offences

A 56 year old County Down man and his 32 year old son have received suspended custodial sentences for waste offences at Downpatrick Crown Court.

The father was sentenced to five months, suspended for three years, and his son was sentenced to five months, also suspended for three years.

The court heard that the fathery was found guilty on three counts of breaching the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court.

On 26 March 2015, while his son pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Order and was found guilty of a further two charges on 27 March 2015, also at Newtownards Magistrates’ Court.

Both defendants, who operated a skip hire business, had previously been made the subject of a joint £47,367.49 confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for the waste offences.

Their offences related to the unlicensed treating, keeping and depositing of controlled wastes.


Eglinton man fined £3,000 for waste offences

A 42 year old man from Eglinton, Londonderry, has been fined £3,000 (plus compensation costs of £4,368) at Londonderry Magistrates’ court for breaches of waste management legislation

Officers from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency visited the site at Eglinton on numerous occasions between September 2013 and March 2015, where they found quantities of construction and demolition waste deposited and stored on site.

The defendant did not hold the relevant waste management licence or an exemption to deposit or store waste at this location.


Directors convicted of waste offences ordered to pay over £340,000

A North Belfast skip hire company and its former directors have been ordered to pay a £200,000 confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for depositing and keeping controlled waste on lands in the city in contravention of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

In addition the company was fined £40,000 and the two directors were each fined £1,000. The directors, brothers, were ordered to pay the confiscation order within three months, or face one year’s imprisonment in default. An order was also placed on the defendants to pay costs of £100,000. Laganside Court heard that between 2007 and 2011, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) officers investigated the unauthorised dumping and burning of waste on premises at Ballyutoag Road, Belfast owned by the brothers.

No waste management licence existed for the site where NIEA officers discovered significant volumes of mixed controlled waste had been treated and buried in lands belonging to the defendants and on neighbouring lands. This waste included construction and demolition wastes, plastics, wood, metals, cardboard, carpet, textiles plastic bin bags and food waste. Repeated incidents of waste burning were also observed to have taken place on the site during 2007 and 2008.

During sentencing and commenting on the role of the defendant company, the Honourable Mrs Justice Keegan remarked that these were “serious environmental offences” and would be categorised as “reckless”.

She also referred to the company’s previous conviction for waste offences on the same site in 2005. In addition, the Honourable Mrs Justice Keegan noted that the brothers had also agreed not to be directors of any waste management company or to undertake the role of technically competent person in relation to any waste management licence for a period of three years; and if these undertakings were breached, the NIEA would seek to apply for a Serious Crime Prevention Order. An NIEA spokesman said: “This court result underlines the seriousness of waste offending. We hope that it also represents both a suitable deterrent to anyone who may be contemplating such activity and a demonstration to the public of our intention to actively pursue anyone who seeks to profit from the destruction of our environment.”