Stay professional and don’t take short cuts. That’s the advice to waste operators across Wessex following the prosecution of a Dorset businessman and his company now facing fines and costs of more than £40,000 after they were caught flouting the law.
Martin Perrett ran an illegal waste site at Court Farm, Buckland Newton near Dorchester offering various services including ground works, plant hire, waste disposal, skip hire and haulage. Trading as Buckland Newton Hire Ltd, the business is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The company had permission to store septic tank sludge at the farm, but not cesspit or chemical toilet waste. Despite being warned by the Environment Agency as long ago as 2005 to ‘only store septic tank sludge’, Martin Perrett continued to allow untreated cesspit and toilet waste to be stored on site.
Untreated waste can spread disease, pollute watercourses and infect the food chain if used on farmland as a soil improver/fertiliser. Potentially harmful untreated cesspit and chemical toilet waste should be taken to a licensed sewage treatment works for safe disposal.
By storing and bulking up untreated sewage waste at Court Farm, Martin Perrett was operating an illegal waste transfer station. When Environment Agency officers visited the site in October 2014 they noticed waste only received the most basic of treatment - screening through a grill to remove ‘rag’ material. Rats were seen in the area used for screening.
By law, all waste operators are required to keep an accurate record of consignments of waste. These are known as ‘waste transfer notes’ (WTN’s) and are important because they help ensure waste is treated properly. They also allow the Environment Agency to keep track of the movement of waste.
Checks by the Environment Agency showed Buckland Newton Hire Ltd had failed to keep proper waste transfer notes. Out of 3,260 WTN’s collected, only 80 contained appropriate information. Describing the company records as ‘poor’, both Buckland Newton Hire Ltd and its managing director were said to have a ‘cavalier approach’ to compliance with waste regulation.
Further checks at Court Farm revealed a lack of adequate procedures and that staff working for the company hadn’t been properly trained. The operator and his staff were wrongly classifying cesspit waste as sludge despite previous, clear advice from the Environment Agency.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said:
There have been longstanding problems at this site that lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Despite advice and support from the Agency, the operator failed to put the necessary measures in place and the business continued to be poorly managed.
Illegal waste operators put human health at risk and can harm the environment. They also put legitimate businesses at a financial disadvantage.
Appearing before Weymouth magistrates, Martin Perrett, of Court Farm, Buckland Newton, was ordered to pay a total of £10,650 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to illegally storing cesspit and chemical toilet waste, screening waste, storing screened waste and failing to keep accurate waste transfer notes in contravention of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and the Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2011. His company, Buckland Newton Hire Ltd, was ordered to pay a total of £31,947 in fines and costs for the same offences.