Thornhill Lees waste site fire pair to sentenced at crown court

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TWO men who ran a waste dump which caught light and burned for weeks, will be sentenced at crown court for breaking environmental regulations.

Kirklees Magistrates heard Roy Hinchcliffe and Neil Hinchcliffe potentially saved almost £1.4m by not paying for the correct permits and other fees. And they said the offences were so serious that their sentencing powers were not enough.

On Tuesday, the court heard the pair ran Forge Plant Limited until it went into liquidation in February 2010.

In the same month, there was a huge fire at the company’s site in Forge Lane, Thornhill Lees.

The court heard it took fire fighters and the Environment Agency several weeks to fully extinguish the blaze because there was so much waste.

Nadine Sime, for the Environment Agency, said the site permit allowed for 700 tonnes of waste, but an estimated 3,325 tonnes were on site at that time.

She said the company also broke regulations at its sites in Ravenswharfe Road in Savile Town and Healey Road, Ossett.

The agency had regularly visited the company since 2008 to advise the men on regulations.

Neil Hinchcliffe, 49, of West Vale, Dewsbury, admitted three counts of breaching environmental regulations. Roy Hinchcliffe, 70, of Greenside Road, Mirfield, admitted four counts.

Paul Normandale, mitigating, said: “If these breaches were so serious, why did the Environment Agency not act before to close down the sites?”

He said the amount of waste at Forge Lane did not hinder access and the pair tried to help clear waste when the fire began.

He said the company had debts of almost £700,000 when it went into administration.

The pair will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court in March.