Tyre Recycler Jailed but Dump Remains
A northern Victoria tyre site that has long been deemed a risk by the Australian EPA remains a problem despite the firm’s director being fined $50,000AUS and sent to jail for four months.
Dump Still Exists as Tyre Recycler Jailed
Shanan James Sidebottom was sentenced to four months behind bars for criminal contempt, while his company, the Sidebottom Group, was fined $50,000 by the Supreme Court earlier this week.
This was the conclusion of a 10-tyear long battle over the site where the Sidebottom Group had proposed a tyre recycling plant.
But despite the Moira Shire Council approving several planning permits, no such operation was established, and Sidebottom amassed 5,000 tonnes of car, truck and industrial tyres.
After a fire in 2013, a dispute developed between the operator and the council, with the matter facing countless court sessions, a VCAT hearing, and Supreme Court dealings in 2015 and 2016.
The court heard that only 7 per cent of tyres were removed from the site between December 2016 and February 2018, following a court order.
In his submission to the court on Monday, Sidebottom apologised and said he had "made efforts" to have the tyres removed but lacked the financial capacity to do so.
He said he had been unable to meet Melbourne-based tyre recycling company Tyrecycle's increased rates, owed money, and had issues with transport.
But Justice Rita Zammit described his actions as a "perverse refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the court".
"I consider Mr Sidebottom's apology disingenuous, given his past breaches, and the fact a mere 7 per cent of the tyres have been removed in four years. I do not accept that Mr Sidebottom is contrite and remorseful," Justice Zammit said.
"He tried to minimise his culpability by blaming former officers of the company for bringing the tyres onto the land.
"He also tried to blame Tyrecycle by suggesting that it was taking advantage of the company's predicament."
Despite the CFA deeming the site an "extreme" risk to the community, and a fire potentially having catastrophic results, there has been no order for the company to remove the tyres.
EPA north-east regional manager Emma Knights said the Numurkah stockpile posed a serious hazard to the small community.
"The hazards of inadequately managed tyre stockpiles include fire and human health impacts associated with air quality from that fire, the contamination of ground and water, and the creation of vermin habitat," Ms Knights said.
She said the council and the EPA had been working "for some time" to solve the problem, but there were restrictions surrounding the agencies' own removal powers under the Environmental Protection Act.