A FORMER recycling business and its director have been ordered to pay more than £50,000 after breaching environmental regulations.

Northern Compliance Ltd and its director, Vincent Eckerman (59) of Castlefield, Prudhoe, were sentenced at South Tyneside Magistrates Court on Tuesday, September 24.

The company and Mr Eckerman pleaded guilty to one charge each of failing to finance the cost of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection, treatment, recovery or disposal of household WEEE items, as per their obligations, in 2017.

At an earlier hearing in July, the court heard producers of electrical items had a duty to finance the collection, treatment, recovery and recycling of waste electrical items, but Eckerman failed to do so between December 31, 2016 and April 1, 2018.

The charges were made following an investigation by the Environment Agency.

The investigation also found that Northern Compliance failed to pay the WEEE Compliance Fee Fund a substantial amount estimated to be in the region of £1,108,862, between December 2016 and April 2018.

Had the payment been made, the company would have conformed to the regulations.

Mr Eckerman told the court told the court the company missed its WEEE collection targets due to a "perfect storm" of problems with suppliers.

Mr. Eckerman said he then realised he would be unable to pay the compliance fee, as he hadn’t been prepared for the sum to be as high as it was.

However, sentencing District Judge Bernard Begley commented: “I found his evidence verbose and lacking in clarity. He simply has not done what I would expect of a man with his experience, and he had been reckless and significantly undermined the regulatory regime.”

Eckerman and the company were ordered to pay a combined amount of £54,365 in fines and compensation.

Northern Compliance were ordered to pay £50,900 in compensation to the WEEE Compliance Fee Fund.

Mr Eckerman was fined £2,295 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000, as well as a victim surcharge of £170.

District Judge Begley added that the fines and compensation would have been higher, if the defendants had the ability to pay.

David O'Toole, regulated industry programme manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Rules and regulations are in place for people and organisations to abide by. "

"When those legalities are broken we aim to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"In this case, Northern Compliance Ltd have paid the ultimate price as the company is no longer trading having had its authorisation revoked and Mr Eckerman now has a criminal conviction.

"Hopefully this will make other companies in a similar position of responsibility think twice about breaking the law and pay their compliance fees."