A Co Antrim businessman and his scrap metal firm were fined a total of £45,000 today (Monday) for illegally dumping waste.
Robert John Mulholland (49) and his company Mulholland Scrap Metals Ltd each pleaded guilty to keeping, deposting and treating controlled waste without a licence.
Belfast Recorders Crown heard that officers from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) visited the company’s premises at Maine Road, Shanksbridge, Ballymena on June 29, 2010.
The investigators said they found a large amount of scrap metal, scrap cars, bed springs, batteries, fridges, cans, trucks and lorries on the site.
The court was told that the NIEA wrote to Mr Mulholland, who was the director and sole shareholder in the business, to advise him that he was operating without a waste management licence.
On June 28, 2011, the NIEA visited the eight-acre site for a second time and found that “50-80 per cent” of the land was covered in scrap metal, cars and car parts.
Mr Mulholland claimed during interview under caution that he was working a with consultancy firm who were in the process of applying for a waste management licence.
However, Judge Devlin was told that an application for a waste management licence was only received by the NIEA from the consultancy firm on December 12, 2011 – six months after the second visit.
The court heard that between June 29, 2010 and June 28, 2011, the NIEA estimated around 19,722 tonnes of waste had been treated on the site with a minimum estimated turnover put at around £3 million.
Judge Devlin said Mulholland and his company had committed “deliberated and persistant” breaches of waste treatment laws for a year at the site.
The judge fined Muhollannd £40,000 and sentenced him to three months in jail suspended for two years for three offences under the Waste and Contaminated Land (NI) Order 1997.
His company was fined a total of £5,000 for the same three offences. The court granted Mulholland four months to pay off the fines.
A confiscation hearing is expected to take place in March 2014.