Yorkshire businessman among those sentenced for environmental offences which led to fires burning for days at waste sites

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Fines and jail time have been handed out to people sentenced following convictions for environmental crimes which led to fires at waste sites after they repeatedly ignored safety advice from the Environment Agency.

Sentencing included prison sentences spanning six and a half years and fines totalling more than £103,000.

The defendants appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Monday for offences at Greenology sites in Liverton, near Loftus in East Cleveland, and Skippers Lane Industrial Estate in Middlesbrough, and at Selective Environmental Solutions Ltd (SESL) at Old Eldon Brickworks near Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

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Greenology (Liverton) Ltd’s director Laura Hepburn and manager Jonathan Guy Brudenell, who were formerly a couple, were convicted of offences at the Liverton site, along with Jonathan Waldron of SESL who operated at the site before Greenology took over.

Waste at the Liverton site.Waste at the Liverton site.
Waste at the Liverton site.

Mr Waldron had also failed to comply with an enforcement notice at the Old Eldon Brickworks site as director of Falcons Two Ltd.

Laura Hepburn was sentenced for offences as director of Greenology (Teesside) Ltd for offences at the Middlesbrough site relating to the illegal storage of waste tyres. She received a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 150 hours of unpaid community work.

Mr Brudenell was sentenced to prison for two years and 10 months.

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The judge initially jailed Mr Waldron for 20 months, but after a plea for clemency citing 1,200 pigs that would die because he had sole responsibility for feeding and looking after them, had his sentence suspended for two years with requirements of probation supervision, rehabilitation and 150 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.

The illegal storage of tyres at Greenology's site in Middlesbrough.The illegal storage of tyres at Greenology's site in Middlesbrough.
The illegal storage of tyres at Greenology's site in Middlesbrough.

Greenology (Liverton) was fined £69,000, Greenology (Teesside) was fined £20,000 and SESL was fined £14,666.66.

The court was told SESL first operated at the Liverton site between December 2018 and February 2019 with Waldron as director, Brudenell in a managerial role and Hepburn also involved.

In January 2019, the Environment Agency started investigating SESL as it was in breach of its waste exemption storage limit of 500 tonnes.

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After a fall out between the defendants, Hepburn set up Greenology (Liverton) Ltd, which took over the site in February 2019. Throughout this period Brudenell continued in a management role, using the false name Guy Barker, a fact known by Hepburn.

A major fire broke out on April 5 2020 which burned for nine days, having a major impact on nearby residents who were unable to be evacuated due to Covid restrictions.

By helping to run both SESL and Greenology (Liverton), Brudenell was breaching a bankruptcy restriction order that had been imposed as a result of multiple fraud offences which prohibited him from running a company.

In a separate case, in February 2020 Falcons Two Ltd took over the operation of the Old Brickworks at Eldon, Bishop Auckland, with Waldron as one of its directors and the person with waste management knowledge.

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Following inspections of the site the Environment Agency told Waldron to take remedial action to bring the site back into compliance given the risk of a significant environmental incident due to multiple failures of the site’s fire prevention plan. A fire broke out there in August 2020.