An estimated 26,000 cubic metres of waste was taken to an airfield in the West Midlands to be dumped, buried or burned illegally during the offending period. The waste consisted mainly of construction and demolition materials, including aluminum products which is classified as hazardous.
In a case brought by the Environment Agency, Mr John Bruce was sentenced for six charges in relation to unpermitted waste activity at Ridgeway Park Farm, Throckmorton Airfield, Worcestershire. The court also ordered confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Mr Bruce, who trades as UK Plant Services, operated under a fradulent waste carriers registration number. Heavy goods vehicles and articulated tippers removed waste from construction sites and permitted waste sites around the West Midlands. This was then deposited at the farm and disposed of on an industrial scale by burning and burial.
Over the course of the illegal operation, several high risk fires were reported causing misery for local residents, endangering health and causing air pollution. Responding to complaints from local residents, Environment Agency officers met with Mr Bruce on a number of occasions, conducting site inspections and enforcing environmental regulations. Warnings were issued following evidence that burning had been taking place on the site.
Despite numerous efforts to work with Mr Bruce, all enforcement actions from the EA and the local fire service were ignored.
In sentencing, the Judge commented that this was serious environmental offending and that there was a clear need for a deterrent sentence, although consideration was given for pleading guilty and avoiding a full trial.
An Environment Agency officer in charge of the investigation said:
Mr Bruce has shown a blatant disregard for the environment and local community, subjecting local residents to months of misery by bringing on large quantities of waste and burning it on the site. John Bruce operated a sustained large scale illegal waste site at his farm. He imported, burned, buried and spread unsuitable polluting waste, causing pollution to the land and air, harm to the cattle and significant harm and disruption to local residents and businesses.
Waste crime can cause serious pollution to the environment put communities at risk and undermines legitimate business and the investment and economic growth that go with it. The Environment Agency will use all its enforcement powers, where we believe environmental offences have been committed. In cases where we believe monies have been unlawfully gained, we will investigate under the proceeds of crime act and confiscate assets.
The Environment Agency urge people to report waste crime on our Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.