Last reviewed 24 April 2020

On 2 March 2020, Taunton Crown Court ordered Wayne Hillard to pay £384,100, plus costs of £16,629, for running a business dismantling scrap cars without an environmental permit.

The facts

The Court heard that Wayne Hillard, 42, ran a business premise at Springway Farm, Westonzoyland in Somerset. In January 2015, Environment Agency officers visited his premises. He claimed that he was only repairing cars however they suspected he was dismantling scrap cars. He had previously been informed that he required an environmental permit to dismantle vehicles at the site.

In February 2017, an agency officer returned to Springway Farm and noticed several car engines stored on wooden pallets. Suspecting the engines were from vehicles dismantled on site, the officer served Hillard with a notice requiring him to supply waste transfer notes for all wastes including hazardous wastes brought onto or exported from the site between 1 January 2016 and 17 February 2017. Hillard said he had purchased them from a business in Manchester but was unable to provide any receipts.

Audits of local permitted scrap metal dealers later confirmed Hillard had been paid approximately £84,000 for car shells, engines, batteries, ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals over 20 months from January 2016. In addition to payments received from his local scrap metal dealer, Hillard would have made money from the sale of reusable vehicle parts from his illegal business including the export of components to Greece and Georgia.

Proceeds of Crime investigators subsequently discovered Hillard made £1.3m and was still operating illegally including exporting vehicle parts, even after entering a guilty plea in 2018.

The Decision

Hillard pleaded guilty to two charges of operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit, namely the depolluting and breaking of End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) contrary to ss.12 and 38 of Environmental Permitting Regulations. Charges covered two periods of between 1 January 2016 and February 2017 and again between 1 June 2017 and 31 August 2017.

He was ordered to pay £384,100, and costs of £16,629. He was also given an 18-month conditional discharge. The judge said that if he reoffends and is prosecuted, he would then face sentencing for both this and the new offence. He was warned he would face a three-year prison sentence if he failed to pay the penalty imposed under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency following a joint investigation with Avon and Somerset Police. An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

This prosecution is the result of a prolonged period of offending.

We provided the defendant with advice and guidance over a number of years, yet he chose to ignore us and continued to dismantle vehicles at an illegal site.

This gave him an unfair advantage over law-abiding operators and risked polluting the environment.

Dr Kirstie Cogram, from Avon and Somerset Police Financial Investigation Unit, said:

We’re committed to pursuing offenders through the courts using the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize their ill-gotten gains.

We hope this case will act as a deterrent to others and send out a clear message that crime does not pay.

Comment

An End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) is a vehicle that is classed as waste. To protect people and the environment from pollution and harm, the management of ELV is heavily regulated. An ELV may contain component parts that are still fit for their original purpose and these can be removed, sold and reused in other vehicles. Any remaining components containing metals will have a scrap value. The dismantling of ELVs needs to be carried out under a permit issued by the Environment Agency.

Permits are issued for authorised treatment facilities (ATF). To run an ATF and store, handle and take apart ELVs, you must follow the rules and duties on depollution.

All scrap cars must be issued with an official certificate of destruction when they reach their end of life, with details entered onto the DVLA system. Importantly, all ELVs must be depolluted, otherwise it will class as hazardous waste and fall within those rules. The vehicle must be stored on an impermeable pavement, and to depollute a vehicle, the following must be removed:

  • battery

  • fuel

  • wheels, tyres and lead balance weights

  • liquefied gas tank (if present)

  • liquids — including coolants, antifreeze, brake fluid, air-conditioning gas, shock absorber fluid and windscreen wash

  • oils — including engine, gearbox, transmission and hydraulic oils

  • oil filters — if crushed using special equipment to remove all the oil, the filter to the car can be returned because it is non-hazardous waste

  • parts with mercury, like switches

  • catalytic converter.

Potentially explosive materials like air bags and seat belt pre-tensioners can either be removed or set off in situ (the recommended option).

Parts for resale must be stored safely, and in a manner that prevents damage to the part. Liquids must be stored by type, in separate, clearly labelled, leakproof containers. Batteries must also be stored in clearly labelled, acid-resistant, leakproof containers and kept separately to other different types. Mixed waste must also follow the restrictions on mixing hazardous waste.

In addition to having the correct environmental permit, to treat ELVs planning permission and a scrap metal dealer’s licence from the local council is also required.

Disposal of these vehicles clearly pose a serious risk to the environment, which is why the regulatory protections are in place. As this month’s case shows, while it may be lucrative, evasion of the rules will result in criminal investigation and an attached Proceeds of Crime Order which brings threats of long prison sentences.