A waste firm boss faces being jailed after Environment Agency officials today claimed that he had failed to comply with a court order to clear a rubbish pile that once reached 40ft.
Robert McNaughton, boss of Refuse Derived Fuel Ltd, in Brierley Hill, was given a suspended jail sentence in June by the High Court sitting in Birmingham. Mr Justice Burton found
McNaughton in contempt of court because he failed to meet targets to clear the mound at the plant in Moor Street. He said the suspended sentence would be activated on December 23 if he did not clear the site completely by 4pm on Tuesday.
Environment Agency officials have been at the firm, known as RDF Ltd, earlier this week to assess the works to clear the site.
The firm had been banned from receiving more waste for the past two months to force bosses to take action. But the agency’s West Midlands environment manager David Hudson took to Twitter yesterday to reveal that the firm had failed to comply.
The agency is now planning to take the matter back to court. Officials will also hold talks with the landowners, councillors and West Midlands Fire Service to formulate a plan to remove the rubbish.
In a statement on the Environment Agency website, officials said: “From our visits to the site, it appears that the company and Mr McNaughton have failed to comply with the judge’s order to clear the site of waste by 10 September 2013.
“We have always believed that the most important thing is to get the site cleared and we are currently assessing the evidence of failure to comply.
“We are also arranging to discuss the matter of waste removal with the landowners in consultation with the local councillors, Dudley Council and West Midlands Fire Service.”
Residents living nearby, including in new homes built on the old Royal Brierley Crystal site, have been demanding a clear-up since 2009. But it took a more than a year of courtroom battles to force the firm to act.
During the hearing, Mr Justice Burton hit out at the firm for creating a ‘real eyesore and health danger’ by failing to clear the towering rubbish pile at its site.
Earlier in the summer the pile had been lowered to 19ft in places but the court ruled the site should be fully cleared. It came after the company, which produces fuel for burning at other sites using the waste it collects, had missed previous deadlines set by court orders for the pile to be tackled.
McNaughton claimed in court that it would be ‘impossible’ to meet the deadline because of lack of funds. Refuse Derived Fuel Ltd was unavailable for comment today.