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Setchey company director fined thousands over illegal waste site

A West Norfolk director has been ordered to pay £22,000 for operating an illegal waste site for over a year.

Benjamin Lemmon, 37, pleaded guilty to the charge in Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

His company Skippy Industries Ltd, based at Riverside Farm, Setchey, stockpiled old refrigerators, soiled mattresses, rubble and other mixed waste outside in the open where it risked contaminating the nearby River Nar Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The Environment Agency (EA) has said it repeatedly warned the director over this.

Officers from the EA visited on nine different occasions from May 2018 to April 2019 and consistently found waste piling up on land used by the company.

In an interview, Lemmon admitted he knew he should have sought an amended permit to allow him to lawfully extend the site, but said he couldn’t afford it. He claimed the company had been “a victim of its own success” and had “got too busy for the size of the building.”

The court heard Lemmon’s ‘reckless’ actions had also undercut other legitimate businesses.

Barrister Mike McGee, defending, told the court that Lemmon had little experience of the waste industry and had done his best to clear the non-compliant waste.

Lemmon was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £8,170 in costs and surcharges.

After the hearing, EA senior environment officer Scott Cunnington said: “It’s our job to regulate waste activity to make sure it doesn’t put people or the environment at risk.

“We always aim to work with and support business growth as long as it’s compliant with the rules.

“We hope securing this criminal conviction of a waste operator serves as a wake-up call to other businesses and a reminder that they must stay within the conditions and boundaries outlined by their permits.”

Anyone who suspects illegal waste activity should report it to the Environment Agency’s 24-hour hotline by calling 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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