Housing company must pay for illegal waste activity
Bellway Homes Limited imported the waste soil – containing wood, metal, wire cables, rubber, plastic and vehicle tyres – on to its housing development site called St Mary’s Park near Stannington.
It submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.
An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a donation to an environmental charity to carry out improvements in the local area.
Bellway Homes will pay £50,000 to Northumberland Wildlife Trust, £30,000 to Wear Rivers Trust and £20,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust.
Waste was imported from another site
Between 22 November and 12 December 2017 the company imported around 2,688 cubic metres of contaminated waste soil on to the site from one of their other developments at nearby Five Mile Park. It said this was to build a soil bund around an attenuation pond – which is an artificial pond created to catch excess rainwater.
In February 2019 an Environment Agency officer attended the site after receiving a report of illegal waste activity. An enforcement notice was subsequently issued meaning the waste had to be removed from the pond area. It was moved to another area of the site and then on to a permitted waste facility for disposal during July and August 2020.
Bellway Homes said its consultants had told them it was allowed to import the soil without any authorisation, which is not correct.
As part of the Enforcement Undertaking requirements Bellway Homes must improve awareness of the law in relation to soils and waste and review its protocols to prevent future issues.
Waste caused distress for local residents
Andrew Turner, Area Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in the North East, said:
“Despite being a large and experienced housebuilder Bellway claimed it followed the advice of a consultancy which said it was appropriate to import the contaminated soil.
“We know the waste material being left on site for such a long period of time caused distress to local residents and this has since been cleared.
“While we will always take forward prosecutions in the most serious cases, Enforcement Undertakings are an effective enforcement tool to allow companies to put things right and contribute to environmental improvements. It also supports the prevention of repeat incidents by companies improving their procedures to ensure future compliance with environmental requirements.”
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