Tough penalties for illegal waste activities

14-Jan-2014

Today, 14 January 2014, Ranbir Singh, Reginald Baldwin and Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Ltd were sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court in relation to illegal waste activities in Oldbury, West Midlands.

The defendants pleaded guilty at earlier court hearings.  A further defendant, Balwant Singh Baghria, is due to be sentenced on 21 February 2014, following consideration of medical evidence.

Ranbir Singh, also known as ‘Nick Singh’ aged 41 of Goode Close, Oldbury was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and disqualified from being a director of a company for 7 years. 

Reginald Baldwin, aged 71 of North Drive, Sutton Coldfield was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years and disqualified from being a director of a company for 7 years.  I addition he was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work in the community. 

Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Limited, was fined a total of £100,000. 

A timetable has also been set in relation to confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in relation to the financial gain made by Ranbir Singh, Balwant Singh Bagrhia and Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Limited throughout the offending period.  Operating and disposal costs alone are calculated to be in the region of £230,000.  Confiscation will be dealt with at a future Court hearing. 

In court

In passing sentence His Honour Judge Walsh stated that the offences were a deliberate breach of environmental legislation which had an adverse effect on the amenity of the local area and resulted in substantial costs being incurred by others. 

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  Prosecuting for the Environment Agency, Counsel Mr Nicholas Cole told the Court that between the period July 2010 and July 2012, the defendants engaged in large scale, commercial tipping operations at two sites in Oldbury.  Substantial amounts of waste were deposited at ‘The Yard’, Nelson Street and ‘Butler’s Yard’ Parsonage Street in Oldbury.  Initially, the site at Nelson Street, Oldbury operated as a fully permitted facility, with an environmental permit in place.  However, over a period of time the site deposited and stored waste over and above the maximum storage capacities, to dangerous levels.  In addition, waste was then deposited illegally on land opposite known as Butler’s Yard, where there was no environmental permit in force.

Ranbir Singh and Balwant Singh Bagrhia, also known as ‘Bob Singh’ operated both sites under the company name Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Limited.  When Ranbir Singh resigned as a director, Reginald Baldwin became the sole director of the company, although by this time the waste had been deposited at both sites.  He pleaded guilty on the basis that he failed in his capacity as director to bring about the removal of waste from Butler’s Yard. 

Despite interventions from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and Sandwell Planning Authority, operations continued.  The service of a prohibition notice by the HSE in July 2011 and a Stop Notices by Sandwell Planning Authority in March and December 2011 did not deter the defendants from continuing to deposit waste at both sites.  Officers from the Environment Agency undertook a surveillance operation in order to gather evidence in support of a prosecution.  Operations finally ceased when Ranbir Singh was arrested in July 2011.  The Environment Agency incurred costs of just over £101,000 to clear some of the waste at Nelson Street to prevent damage being caused to a neighbouring business due to the pressure of the waste pile on the wall of an adjacent building.  Sandwell Planning Authority incurred costs of around £4,600 for clearing waste from the highway outside both sites.

The remaining waste at Nelson Street was removed by the landowner at a cost of approximately £35,000.  Waste at Bulter’s Yard, Parsonage Street remains in situ to this day.  It has caused problems with odour, has attracted rats and has been infested with crickets which have caused nuisance to neighbouring businesses.  The cost of removal will run into several hundreds of thousands of pounds with some quotes in excess of £1,000,000.  The estimated volume of waste has been calculated at 6,000 cubic metres. 

Ranbir Singh also deposited waste at a third location, Unit 3 Gupta Industrial Area, Oldbury albeit on a smaller scale in February 2012.    The landowner incurred costs of over £2,200 to clear the unit. 

Environment Agency statement

Speaking after the case, David Hudson, Environment Manager said:  “In the past few months, we have seen a marked toughening in sentences passed by the Courts.  Many have led to prison sentences.  In the Midlands we now have 6 waste offenders serving a total of 59 months in prison.  We are increasingly using the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to trace the money made by their illegal trade and to make polluters pay for their actions.”

For more information about the action we are taking to reduce waste crime, visit our website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wastecrime.  We urge people to report waste crime on our Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Charges

There were a total of 23 Counts on the Indictment covering offences under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  The defendants pleaded guilty to a total of 16 charges.  The remaining charges will lie on file. 

1. Langley Skip Hire (Midlands) Limited company number 07460510 is a company in liquidation with a registered office at Nelson Street, Oldbury.  The company pleaded guilty to 4 charges
2. Ranbir Singh of Goode Close, Oldbury pleaded guilty to 7 charges
3. Reginald Baldwin of North Drive, Sutton Coldfield, pleaded guilty to 1 charge