Published Friday, 8th November 2019

Supporting work to enforce air quality in York, City of York Council has prosecuted a contractor for burning pollutants and waste offences.

At York Magistrates’ Court on 5 November, Richard Heppell, aged 28 of Knapton Close, Strensall, pleaded guilty to burning materials which caused the emission of dark smoke, for carrying waste without a licence, failing in his duty of care to dispose of waste lawfully. He was ordered to pay a total £3,227.58.

In April 2019, a report was made to the council of commercial waste being burned at a building site at Askham Bryan and dark smoke being emitted. Officers visited the site that day and found that rather than pay for this commercial waste - which included cables and wires – to be removed legally, he burned it, creating polluting, dark smoke.

Contractor Richard Heppell from AOS (Art of Smart) said he was carrying out electrical work at the new property being built. He confirmed under caution that some of this waste, which included coated cables and quantities of polythene and polystyrene packaging, would have been from his company. Mr Heppell was warned that burning any commercial waste which causes dark smoke is an offence.

Within 30 minutes of this visit, another complaint was received alleging that further dark smoke had been seen when the bonfire was lit again. Officers visited the site the following day and confirmed that the waste had been burned, found documentation addressed to Mr Heppell’s business, and found waste from previous jobs he had undertaken.

Mr Heppell failed to produce details of his waste carriers licence and how he disposes of his waste. He said he was unaware that he had to keep details of his waste disposal and didn’t realise he needed to have a licence. He obtained a waste carrier’s licence on 7 May. When interviewed under caution he admitted burning the waste, saying that he had “panicked”, had been “very stupid” and immediately regretted doing so.

He was prosecuted for four offences relating to creating polluting, noxious smoke. He pleaded guilty to all offences by post and the court fined him £500, he was ordered to pay £2,677.58 costs and a court surcharge of £50.

Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Everyone has a duty to dispose of waste responsibly and legally. Burning pollutants releases dangerous chemicals in the atmosphere which can put people at significant risk, and can contaminate the land it’s burned on.

“I welcome this action and urge everyone to not only obey the law but do all they can to ensure clean air in the city.”

For more information on how to dispose of commercial waste legally and safely, please visit: https://www.york.gov.uk/info/20090/commercial_waste/1569/commercial_waste_disposal_responsibilities

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