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Environment Agency scraps illegal car breaking site

A man has been sentenced to an 18-month community order and fined £11,200 after pleading guilty to operating an illegal car-breaking operation at two sites in Billingham, County Durham. The fine includes a victim surcharge of £900 and costs of £1,300.


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Scrapped cars on unmade ground at The Old Coal Yard site in Billingham, County Durham

Martin Flatman (39) of Bradley Court, Billingham, was sentenced at Teesside Magistrates Court on Tuesday 7 May following a successful prosecution by the Environment Agency.

Flatman was found to have been running an illegal car-breaking operation without possessing the appropriate environmental permit. The offences were committed at a site known as The Old Coal Yard, at the junction of Haverton Hill Road and Hope Street, Billingham between 14 May and 13 August 2020. In addition, a separate site, opposite The Old Coal Yard was being used by Flatman to store scrap vehicles, presenting a pollution risk to the nearby Teesmouth and Cleveland Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Environment Agency enforcement officers investigated following concerns about pollution made by members of the public to the Environment Agency’s national incident hotline.

Waste operators are required to follow the rules and regulations put in place to protect people and the environment. These rules require accurate documentation of the process they follow when transporting waste materials and ensuring those waste materials are disposed of correctly at a waste facility permitted by the Environment Agency. Failure to dispose of waste correctly is a risk to the environment and public health.

The Old Coal Yard site is not a permitted waste facility. Scrap cars contain a variety of hazardous waste materials including brake fluids, fuel and oils. Cars were being stored on unmade ground, with evidence that they had been broken apart with a bulldozer.

Environment Agency enforcement lead for the northeast, John Crowl said:

“This crude operation increased the risk of hazardous wastes leaching into the environment and presented a risk of pollution to groundwater.”

Further, Flatman was unable to produce any waste transfer documentation. As a registered waste-carrier he had a statutory duty to maintain written records of all waste collected including the origin, destination, volume and waste classification. It is an offence to fail to comply with these Duty of Care requirements, which are necessary to prove that waste materials have been disposed of correctly.

Flatman was instructed by the Environment Agency to stop operating and clear the sites. However, subsequent visits by Environment Agency enforcement officers revealed that illegal waste operations continued to be undertaken in violation of the law.

The court found that the offending had been deliberate, committed for financial gain and had undercut lawful operators.

The Environment Agency’s John Crowl said:

“We work hard to prevent and disrupt waste crime and we are delighted that Flatman has admitted wrong-doing in respect of the offences carried out in Billingham. We welcome sentencing by the judge which should act as a deterrent to others considering flouting the law.

Any person or business who transports, treats, stores or deposits waste without the required environmental permit is breaking the law.

The conditions of an environmental permit are designed to protect people and the environment. Failure to comply with these legal requirements is a serious offence that can damage the environment, undermine local legitimate environmental permit holders, put jobs at risk and cause misery for local communities.”



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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

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