By Denna Bowman
A Cheshire company involved in the illegal export of waste tyres to Vietnam has been ordered to pay £10,000 in fines and costs.
The case, taken by the Environment Agency, is the first ever taken under tough new regulations controlling the import and export of waste to the UK.
On 23rd July 2008 an Agency officer visited a site in Warmley, Bristol where waste tyres were being stored. The tyres were baled up and being loaded onto a 40ft shipping container bound for Southampton docks.
Checks revealed the container was owned by a Malaysian shipping company and that the tyres were destined for export to China via Vietnam.
The company storing the tyres said it was aware of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007, but claimed the tyre bales were not waste because they were going to be used in the construction of motorway embankments.
However, under the 2007 Regulations the export of tyres to Vietnam is prohibited unless they are intended for re-use as a tyre on a vehicle.
Any other use, including the export of tyre bales for motorway embankments, was illegal as baled tyres were not a recognised product and are therefore classified as waste.
Further checks by the Agency revealed that between May and August 2008 a total of 40 containers of tyres were exported to Vietnam from the UK in five separate shipments.
Inquiries revealed that Ellesmere Port company played a pivotal role in organising the shipments by paying container related fees and introducing tyre baling companies to the company responsible for the illegal exports.
BTR Limited was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs by Southampton Crown Court after pleading guilty to being involved in the transport of waste tyres to Vietnam.
Cases against the supplier of the tyres and the exporter of the tyres are still pending.