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Scottish businessmen could face jail for waste offences

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Waste business owners to be sentenced following guilty pleas for illegal waste operations

Two former company directors who founded a waste management business near Dunfermline could face 12 months imprisonment for allowing a build-up of controlled waste at their premises and for processing waste in a manner that was dangerous for humans and animals.

Michael Hope and James Winters operated their Lathalmond waste business, First Option Services, from January 2010 until early 2013, when they admitted business defeat and closed the company down following an investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

Lath almond businessmen face jail for waste offences

The men operated their waste business at this site in Lathalmond

The men allowed the disposal of large amounts of controlled waste at their Lathalmond site, including waste carpet and plasterboard. This old plasterboard was reprocessed at the site to produce bedding for livestock.

A number of livestock deaths occurred as a result of this process, and Sepa released a statement confirming that plasterboard could not be processed in this way or for this purpose.

According to the depute fiscal (public prosecutor) in Dunfermline Sheriff Court, Fiona Caldwell, mixing old plasterboard with biodegradable waste “can lead to the production of high concentrations of hydrogen and sulphide gas”.

Following this announcement in June 2012, the company directors were forced to halt business and a backlog of 3,500 tonnes of waste carpet and 3,500 tonnes of waste plasterboard was left at the site. The waste remains there still, three years later, as it is expected to cost around £500,000 to remove and the two men have been left “financially ruined”.

Sepa says the site poses a danger to the environment and human health. According to Sepa, Michael Hope and James Winters never possessed a waste business license. The two men are to be sentenced in May, when they could be handed jail sentences of up to 12 months each.

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