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The head of a skip hire firm has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence for running an unlicensed waste treatment operation on the banks of the river Thames.

Jack Selby, sole director of Erith-based Selbys, which had previously failed in its attempt to obtain a licence authorising six trucks and four trailers, was discovered touting for business on Facebook, with the advert falsely claiming the business was legitimate.

The company took in construction, demolition and household waste in rented premises on the Darent industrial estate for 11 months across 2021 and 2022.

Another of Selby’s companies, M&R Skip Hire, held an environmental permit there before being wound up.

An earlier suspension notice served on M&R for environmental concerns had the site on the Environment Agency’s (EA) radar.

Following a series of visits to Selby’s site, officers found it was stacked with large piles of wood and plastic, along with a significant amount of crushed waste, known as trommel fines.

The EA said the weight of the waste on the embankment could have meant a realistic risk of it failing, which could have led to evacuation of the industrial estate in the event of a flood.

The defence provided flood protection from the rivers Thames and Darent that ran alongside the industrial units.

Matt Higginson, an EA environment manager, said: “Jack Selby broke the law for financial gain. Not only did he charge customers but treated waste illegally. He also skipped fees for managing a lawful waste operation.”