The current plague of illegal waste operations continues, a recent trend being for the criminal to break into disused factory or warehouse premises to deposit large quantities of waste. ENDS Report 20 November 2018 noted the conviction and imprisonment of one individual who illegally entered a large disused factory in Sunderland and deposited some 658 tonnes of waste, including heat generating fine materials, using a counterfeit waste permit to deceive customers into thinking waste could be consigned there. The report suggests that the landlords of the building had to pay to clear the site.
Another example is noted in ENDS Report 15 October 2018 where a man who operated two illegal sites for waste tyres in Cambridgeshire was given an 8 month suspended prison sentence. The company advertised on Facebook as being a licensed waste operator. Combustible tyres were stored in the middle of a residential area, with the nearest home less than 20m away, and within 70m of the mainline train route from Birmingham to Stansted Airport. As with the Sunderland case, the landlord was left with the cost of having to clean up and remove some 9,000 tyres.
Text reference: 1-04
Cases such as the two mentioned above raise the legal issue of liability of landlords for contamination caused by tenants (though there is no suggestion that in these cases the clean-up was anything but voluntary). The Environment Agency has issued a statement warning farmers and owners of empty industrial units to be vigilant in securing their properties and in letting them out (ENDS Report 18 July 2018). ENDS Report 13 July 2018 noted an appeal decision upholding the conviction of a landlord who leased a site to a mattress recycling company which left more than 20,000 mattresses behind when vacating the site. Having failed to remove them the landlord was convicted of knowingly permitting the storage of waste on the site. The ruling confirmed that the offence of knowingly permitting did not require any positive act on the part of the accused: merely an awareness of what was occurring and failure to prevent it. Such cases highlight the importance of landlords exercising due diligence, having appropriate provisions in leases, and being vigilant to enforce them.
Text references: 5-15; 5-20; 18-49