Businessman Jailed for Depositing Dangerous Waste in Former Quarry

Mark Foley has received a custodial sentence of 2 years and 3 months for the illegal deposit of around 100,000 tonnes of waste at Stowey Quarry, in the first 9 months of 2016. The site was run by Foley’s company, M E Foley (Contractors) Ltd, under an environmental permit. The company failed to provide the court with any company accounts and was fined £72,000.

Under the environmental permit, the company could accept clean and non-hazardous material such as soil and construction waste for recovery activities e.g. build bunds and embankments in the quarry. Foley was the site operator, so it was his role to ensure waste arriving on site could be accepted under the permit. An investigation by the EA identified various failings.

The company was given numerous warnings but in spite of these warnings the illegal activities continued and as a result, in October 2016 the EA served the company with a Suspension Notice which suspended the permit with immediate effect and ceased any further operation at the site.

An investigation by the EA discovered:

  • Analysis of samples sourced from trial pits and boreholes showed a high percentage of chopped/shredded plastics, foam, metals, and other man-made materials.
  • Analysis revealed around half of the samples were hazardous and either carcinogenic or ecotoxic.
  • Monitoring of landfill gases and sampling of streams close by found an elevated concentration of gases along with leachate breaking out on to the surface of some nearby fields.
  • Most of the waste being accepted into the quarry was misleadingly described as ‘soil substitute’, arguably an attempt to circumvent the rules.
  • The storage and disposal of the hazardous waste was in breach of the permit which only permitted clean/inert waste.
  • The operator had been dishonest about the amount of waste the site received. Following a review of waste transfer notes supplied by waste producers and hauliers, in 2016, approximately 95,000 tonnes of waste was deposited. This was nearly twice the 44,950 tonnes declared by the company. Questions were raised over the amount of waste the site truly received from 2012 to 2016. By 2016, it is estimated 200,000 tonnes of waste was deposited at the site, which was significantly higher than the 65,000 tonnes allowed under the permit.

There are other defendants in this case which will be sentenced in July 2021 at Bristol Crown Court and hearing dates for proceeds of crime have been fixed.