Duns scrap metal firm fine £53,000 for illegal waste offences

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A Duns scrap metal business has been fined a total of £53,000 for a series of offences relating to waste.

At Duns Sheriff Court today, David Cochrane Ltd were punished for illegally keeping and treating waste for 14 years and for failing to remove a quantity of mixed waste metals, liquid waste, tyres and batteries after being required to do so by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

As well as one of the most significant fines for such offending, the case also resulted in the first confiscation order to be made under Proceeds of Crime legislation for an environmental offence.

A Confiscation Order for £41,131 in terms of the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995 was made against the company on May 8.

The offences took place at Cheeklaw Works, Station Road, Duns where the company dealt in the recovery and treatment of scrap metal as well as other waste such as tyres and batteries.

SEPA had continually advised the company that an impermeable pavement with sealed drainage was required at the site for their business but nothing was ever put in place.

Impermeable surfaces are required for the storage and sorting of scrap, liquid waste and batteries to avoid the risk of any liquids from the waste soaking into the soil and groundwater and contaminating the water environment.

When SEPA required the removal of the waste through an enforcement notice in November 2011, this was not complied with by the deadline given of June 30 last year. The waste was eventually all removed by October 2012.

The financial history of the company was carefully assessed by financial investigators and accountants in the Serious and Organised Crime Division of the Crown Office which led to the Confiscation Order being made on May 8. The Confiscation Order represents the full benefit that the company made from failing to comply with the legislation and fees they avoided by failing to obtain a full waste management licence.

Craig Harris, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment said: “This company was operating on a site that they had refused to make fit for purpose at the expense of the local environment.

“This investigation and prosecution was a result of excellent partnership working between SEPA, Police Scotland and specialist prosecutors from both the Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit and the Serious and Organised Crime Division.

“The Confiscation Order made in this case represents a highly significant step forward in the fight against environmental crime.

“Both the Order and the sentence imposed send a clear message to those who do not comply with our environmental laws. They will not profit from failing in their duty to Scotland’s heritage.”