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Brothers Yusuf Mohammed, aged 48, and Munir Mohammed (aged 58), both of Phoenix Sidings in Stockton-on-Tees, pleaded guilty to two offences of operating an illegal scrap yard when they appeared at Teesside Crown Court on September 18.
Both individuals served as directors of the now-liquidated Jap Parts Ltd., a scrap car yard that was at risk of catching fire. Despite the company's demise and the loss of its environmental permit, they carried on with their operations and did not interact with Environment Agency officers during the protracted investigation.
They were both ordered to pay £1,591 in fines and costs and given a remediation order to clear the site of all the remaining scrap vehicles.
Gary Wallace, area environment manager for The Environment Agency in the North East, said: “The storage and dismantling of scrap vehicles are strictly regulated because of the pollution risks of hazardous liquids such as oil, fuel, and brake fluids, as well as batteries. Dismantling must be done using methods designed to reduce the risk posed to the environment and the waste stored pending recovery or disposal. Operators must have an environmental permit to carry out these activities.”
Wallace added, “This was a lengthy investigation carried out by our officers where the defendants were non-compliant. I’m pleased there is now a court order in place to ensure the clearance of the site once and for all.”
Reports of illegal scrap storage
Teesside Crown Court heard that the brothers owned two areas of land next to each other at Stockton-on-Tees, at Britannia Road and Phoenix Sidings, near the railway line, homes, and businesses. Their company, Jap Parts Ltd., had an environmental permit in place to run a scrap vehicle site on the Phoenix Sidings land.
In July 2019, Environment Agency officers attended the site after receiving reports of illegal scrap vehicle storage. The Phoenix Sidings site was full of vehicles, while the Britannia Road site, for which there was no permit, also had circa 40 scrap vehicles stored on it.
Jap Parts Ltd. was in liquidation and had ceased operations in November 2014, according to inquiries. Jap Parts (North) Ltd., the new business the brothers had founded, lacked an environmental permit to operate on either site. According to Yusif Mohammed, the vehicle stock was transferred to the new company, which started operations in December 2014.
The investigation also revealed that no scrap vehicles had left the site between 2013 and 2018, meaning that the terms of the original permit, which stated vehicles must not be kept for more than three years, had been breached.
The Environment Agency asked the brothers for an action plan to clear the scrap vehicles from both sites.
In September of the same year, Environment Agency officers met the brothers on site. Officers could see around 300 scrap vehicles. Officers raised concerns about the risk of a fire outbreak as many of the vehicles had not been de-polluted (a process whereby hazardous liquids such as fuel and oil are removed and stored safely for disposal). The brothers were told to clear the site by the end of September.
Statutory notices sent
The defendants said that they thought the permit for Jap Parts Ltd. would move to their new company, but they were told this was not the case.
Between September 2019 and the summer of 2021, the Environment Agency sent several statutory notices requiring the defendants to provide more information about waste transfer, storage, and clearing the site, in tandem with a request for the brothers to attend an interview under caution. All of these requests were ignored.
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30 November 2023
05 September 2023