A scrap metal firm which had to pay almost £800,000 after illegally dumping waste in England has been handed a licence for a Glasgow site.
European Metal Recycling Ltd received a hefty fine after around 2000 tonnes of unpermitted shredded vehicle waste was sent to a Somerset quarry.
The company, which plans to operate at Glasgow’s King George V Dock, was convicted of depositing controlled waste without an environmental permit authorising the action in July last year.
It had moved the automotive shredder refuse out of storage at Tilbury Docks in London to Stowey Quarry in May and June of 2016.
Glasgow’s licensing committee decided to give a restricted one-year licence to the company, rather than the three years it had requested.
Councillors also issued a severe warning over the firm’s future conduct.
They heard how European Metal Recycling Ltd (EMR) has leased land from Peel Group until 2042 and intends to invest £11m in the dock. It plans to receive scrap metal for export from the city.
The conviction was raised with Glasgow’s licensing committee by Police Scotland, with a representative reporting EMR had been fined £400,000 and also ordered to pay £350,000 in costs. There was also a confiscation of £32,958, he said.
Christopher Tinsley, the firm’s head of legal, said: “It’s a cause of considerable embarrassment within the organisation because we have otherwise had an excellent record on environmental compliance.”
He told the committee how EMR had stored waste at Tilbury Docks in anticipation of a new waste to energy plant being developed in the West Midlands.
“Unfortunately, the plant that was developed turned out not to be a success and eventually was scrapped,” Mr Tinsley said.
“In the intervening period, the Environment Agency was concerned that we were continuing to store this material at Tilbury Docks, so they asked us to remove it at fairly short notice.”
He said a specialist waste broker had been employed to find a suitable site for the waste.
“The residual material that we weren’t able to dispose of in time, the waste broker we had engaged found this site known as Stowey Quarry, they recommended the site to us as a suitable site for the material.
“We sent a specialist from our environmental team to do a duty of care audit on the site, they were satisfied the site was legitimate and that they had a valid permit.
“Unfortunately, the person that inspected the permit made a mistake in identifying the type of waste that site was permitted to receive.
“It did have a permit to receive certain types of waste but the type of waste we were wanting to send there wasn’t the correct type. As a result of that, we did send just under 2000 tonnes of material.”
He added: “As it turned out, the person who was operating the site was not somebody we would ordinarily want to deal with and was separately prosecuted because he had been receiving all sorts of waste from third parties which he wasn’t entitled to receive.”
A number of changes have been made since the incident, Mr Tinsley told the committee.
He said these included an enhanced duty of care audit process, a comprehensive waste management policy and the employment of a specialist waste and by-products manager.
Mr Tinsley also said the “small amount” of waste generated in Glasgow would be “taken off site and disposed of lawfully”.
Cllr Alex Wilson, who chaired the licensing committee, said: “I’m really pleased that Police Scotland has done its due diligence on this.
“I think it’s important this was brought to committee, albeit you have provided really thorough explanations as to what has happened in terms of your mistake. A very, very expensive mistake at the end of the day.
“It’s good to see that you’re giving us reassurances that you have safeguards in place for this not to happen again.”
EMR currently has four Scottish sites at Dundee, Bellshill, Kilmarnock and South Street on the north bank of the Clyde.
These are expected to be feeder sites for the King George V Dock base.
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