In a recent environmental case, the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence imposed on a director of a community order, five year director disqualification as well as an order to pay the prosecution's costs.
In this case, a two site company held a permit at one of its sites for operating a waste transfer station for household and industrial waste. At the second site it held an exemption for depositing wood waste. Following site inspections by the Environment Agency, the company signed a voluntary improvement plan but later failed to meet its deadlines. An enforcement notice was issued but the company failed to comply with it. As a result the permit was revoked – the company did not remove the waste and the Environment Agency spent circa £250,000 in clean-up costs.
There were also issues at the second site where the company stored wood that was not covered by the exemption and failed to remove it when asked to do so.
The director of the company pleaded guilty to environmental offences on the basis that he had been negligent.
This case highlights the seriousness with which the court considers these types of offences; courts, where appropriate, will impose sentences more onerous and serious than simply a fine. They will also give due consideration to ancillary orders - in this case, even though the director had been negligent, as opposed to him having consented or connived (consent being where a director is aware of what was happening and agreed to it and connivance being where a director was simply aware of what was happening), the court deemed it appropriate to disqualify him as a director for five years. Such a disqualification means that he cannot act in the management, formation or promotion of a company for that period.