Information about Refuse Derived Fuel Ltd (RDF), Moor Street, Brierley Hill, West Midlands - updated 10 March 2014.
Brian Hill Waste Management Limited operated the waste management site at Moor Street until June 2009. When RDF took over the site, the permit and its conditions transferred to Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Limited. RDF’s business plan was to produce a fuel for burning at other sites using the waste collected at Moor Street. Unfortunately the shredding and bailing activities did not comply with the conditions of the permit.
We began to take enforcement action against the company (RDF) for storing waste above the permit’s maximum height requirements.
We took legal action against RDF and its directors (Robert McNaughton and Sharon McCann) in April 2012. This followed earlier unsuccessful efforts to secure the company’s compliance with the environmental permit for the Moor Street site. The case was first before the High Court in Birmingham in May 2012, with several subsequent hearings.
Update 26 February 2014: A further written application by Robert McNaughton to “purge” his contempt of court and be released from prison has been dismissed. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave concluded that “the defendant’s application is no more than a re-heat of the points made by the defendant at the oral hearing on 16 January 2014, which were dismissed by the court as wholly without merit and indemnity costs ordered against him”. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave also stated that the submissions contained “no concrete proposals or evidence whatsoever which would give the court any confidence that [he] would clear the site if released.”
Update 16 January 2014: Mr Justice Haddon-Cave heard an application by Robert McNaughton to “purge” his contempt of court and be released from prison. We were in court to oppose the application. Mr McNaughton’s application was dismissed and he was returned to prison to serve the remainder of his 6 month sentence.
When giving judgement Mr Justice Haddon-Cave concluded that Mr McNaughton had not taken adequate steps to clear the site and had not yet been sufficiently punished for his contempt of court. The judge said that there is a strong public interest in upholding the rule of law where court orders are breached. He also remarked that it is in the public interest to support the Environment Agency in going about its public duty to enforce the law.
Update 14 January 2014: The landowners of the Refuse Derived Fuel Limited (RDF Ltd) site at Moor Street, Brierley Hill have informed us that they have removed the waste bales at the front of this site. This is a positive development. If members of the public have any concerns about the RDF Ltd site please call our Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
Update 6 December 2014: As we believe that RDF is not competent to hold a permit, the Environment Agency has revoked the company's authorisation to operate the site. The notice further requires that RDF must remove all remaining waste from the site by 17 February 2014. Failure to comply with the requirements of the notice is a criminal offence.
Hearing on 23 Dec 2013
On 23 December 2013, Mr Justice MacDuff, ordered Mr McNaughton to start a 6 month custodial sentence for failing to comply with court orders to clear up his site. The sentence was originally imposed at a previous hearing by Mr Justice Burton.
The judge also gave the Environment Agency permission to apply for a sequestration order to seize the defendant’s assets in order to secure compliance with the court order to remove the waste.
David Hudson, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency said:
"In handing Mr McNaughton a custodial sentence, the court has recognised the seriousness of not complying with environmental legislation and court orders. We know that residents are frustrated and we appreciate their ongoing support. Our priority has always been to get the site cleared, and we think that those responsible should still be made to pay. We will continue to work to make this happen.”
Hearing on 20 June 2013
At this hearing, we submitted evidence to show that the defendants had failed to comply with the court orders dated 18 June 2012 and 10 December 2012. Mr Justice Burton found RDF and Robert McNaughton in contempt of court for breaching both orders. Sharon McCann was found to be in contempt only for breach of the 18 June order, as she ceased to be a Director of RDF in October 2012.
The Judge ordered the following:
- From 10 July 2013, no further waste may be taken onto the site (until 10 July, waste may be taken onto the site, subject to the conditions in the December injunction).
- By 10 September 2013, the whole site must be cleaed.
- Robert McNaughton was sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended until 23 December 2013.
- The defendants were ordered to pay our legal costs.
Hearing on 10 December 2012
At the high court on 10 December, the Judge heard and granted by consent our application for a mandatory injunction requiring RDF to completely remove all waste on site by 10 July 2013. The section of the site visible from the main gate needed to be cleared by 29 March 2013.
The court order did not ban the deposit of new waste at RDF’s Moor Street site, but it applied very strict conditions on where it could be deposited and on how long it could be kept on site.
Hearing on 26 October 2012
The independent surveyor’s report showed that the height of the waste varied generally between around 6 and 8 metres. Over 200 tonnes of waste had been removed from the site between 19 and 26 October 2012. The court acknowledged that the company and Robert McNaughton had committed to remove further waste from the site and ordered an extension of the interim injunction granted on 19 October - this injunction will now last until the next hearing in December 2012.
Hearing on 19 October 2012
We submitted evidence to show RDF’s failure to comply with the Court Order made on 18 June 2012. We also issued an application for the High Court to consider penalising the company and its directors for failure to do so.
The judge ordered an interim injunction (a temporary injunction), tightly restricting waste activity on the site. The judge also attached a penal notice (notifying the company and its directors of the penalties they might face for disobeying the Court Order).
The judge directed the company and directors to obtain a report from an independent surveyor, jointly instructed by the Environment Agency but funded by the company and its directors, to confirm the height of the waste pile.
Hearing on 18 June 2012
At this review hearing, the company and its directors committed to reduce the waste pile at their site to no more than 6 metres high by Friday 12 October 2012. They also made other commitments, including a promise to remove at least 500 existing bales of waste from the site by 12 October 2012.
Hearing on 3 May 2012
RDF Limited and its directors gave undertakings (legally binding commitments) to reduce the waste pile at their site on Moor Street in Brierley Hill to 8 metres high by 15 June 2012.
Keeping the public informed
We have been in regular contact with local residents, MP Chris Kelly, councillors for the Brierley Hill ward and local partners to keep them informed of the progress of the High Court case. Earlier this year we also held a “drop in” session for local residents at the Brierley Hill Civic Hall. We have produced this web page to set out the basic information about progress at the site and will update as and when appropriate.
David Hudson, our Environment Manager, regularly tweets about our work at RDF. You can follow him on Twitter:
We keep in regular contact with local residents to update them on the latest news regarding RDF. Here is a copy of our latest letter to residents: