THE MAN blamed for one of Wigan’s biggest ever environmental messes has been jailed for failing to clear it up.
For five years councillors and town hall officers have fought a lengthy legal battle to have a stinking mountain of fly-blown refuse removed from New Springs.
Now the former boss of the failed skip yard - James Manning of McCann Waste Managers - has been given a four-month custodial sentence at Manchester High Court for Contempt of Court after failing to carry out the terms of earlier judgments and remove the dump.
Today, as the massive pile of illegally stored waste continues to tower over the canal towpath near Cale Lane, Wigan’s MP and the ward councillor who has battled the dump, hailed the sentence.
There are growing hopes that a way forward can now be found to remove the illegal tip although it could cost up to £1m because of its size. Both hope the sentence will be a warning to those who flout environmental laws which leave the community to pick up the pieces.
MP Lisa Nandy said: “This is a triumph for residents and councillors who have battled for years to clean up this well loved landscape.
“The judgment should serve as a warning to anyone who believes they can blight our open spaces and show contempt for local residents.”
Aspull-New Springs-Standish councillor Chris Ready said: “I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of complaints over the years about this eyesore.
“The ignorance of the people involved in the offences including Manning showed that they didn’t give two hoots about the local community and they just let it go on and on.
“I wonder how they would feel if someone did this near their home.
“Something needs to be sorted because this has gone on now for five years.
“It has been there that long now we don’t really known what is there buried under that lot.”
In August the Environment Agency successfully applied for an injunction against James Manning of McCann Waste Managers Limited, which required him to clear the waste he deposited at this site.
He has subsequenly failed to comply with the order and as a result and has now been found guilty of contempt of court and jailed.
A spokesman for the EA said: “The injunction secured against Mr Manning through the court demonstrates the lengths we go to tackle waste crime and to protect the environment and local communities.
“We are now reviewing our options to try and secure the remnoval of the waste.”
The Agency urge people to report waste crime on its Incident Hotline 0800 807060 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
In an earlier prosecution, Manning, 52, who lives in Leyland, had already been ordered to pay over £20,000 in fines and costs for tipping thousands of tons of rubbish on the site at Kirkless Industrial Estate while operating without an environmental permit.
In a private prosecution brought by the agency, the courts heard how Manning knowingly allowed rubbish to be dumped on plot 18 at the Cale Lane without having approval.
The waste mountain also spilled out of the site, causing localised pollution in the on a stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and led to complaints from the public, politicians and British Waterways.
Environment Agency chiefs first visited the site repeatedly and advised Manning to obtain an environmental permit.
But his company – set up after his previous firm, McCann Waste Management, had been wound-up – carried on regardless, the court heard.