Press release

Dorset farmer given suspended prison sentence for burning rubbish

David House broke a promise to stop burning waste on his land in Upton, near Poole, and was also banned from the waste industry.

Stock image of land covered in ash and a severely burned refrigerator
Burning waste can be harmful to the environment

A Dorset man has received a six-month suspended prison sentence and been banned from working in the waste industry for five years after burning waste at a site near Poole.

Environment Agency officers visited French’s Farm, Watery Lane, Upton on 17 August 2015 to check whether David House had complied with a formal notice to remove illegal waste from the site. Earlier checks revealed the farm was being used for the illegal storage and disposal of domestic and commercial waste.

Inquiries revealed House, a tenant farmer, had been disposing of waste by burning at the site since 2013. In fact, the agency had evidence from reports of 64 fires during a five-year period at the site. Dorset Fire and Rescue dealt with 11 fires within six months in 2015.

During interview, House claimed he had given permission to others to dump and burn waste and promised to clear the site within a month. This was not done. In recognition of ill health, it was decided House would be given a caution as long as he removed the waste by a set deadline. Instead, waste fires began again and, despite being told not to, House spread the ash across his land. Tests revealed the ash contained arsenic, cadmium and lead.

During a second interview, House flippantly introduced himself as former Coronation Street character Ena Sharples before blaming others for the waste on his land.

Appearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, House pleaded guilty to knowingly causing the operation of a regulated facility without authority and disposing of controlled special waste in a manner likely to cause harm to human health.

He was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 15 months, and made the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order that prevents him from being involved in the collection, transportation or disposal of waste from any premises.

Under the order, House is banned from setting or lighting any fire in the open for the purpose of burning controlled waste without obtaining permission, in advance and in writing, from the Environment Agency. He is also prohibited from importing or allowing any person in a vehicle to import or bring any waste onto any land, business premises or residential premises of which he has control or is the occupier. The ban runs for five years.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said:

While the vast majority of waste sites we regulate are well run and provide a much needed waste management service, we recognise there’s an issue with a small number of operators who break the rule of their permit.

We tried to work with Mr House to rectify issues and to ensure he was operating within the law but to no avail. We will prosecute those willingly found flouting the law by undertaking illegal activity and causing harm to the environment and human health.

House was previously prosecuted for assaulting an Environment Agency officer who was trying to photograph waste at his site during a separate hearing in December 2016.

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.

If you see waste crime report it by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Editor’s notes

House pleaded guilty to one count of operating a regulated facility without a permit under sections (38(1)(a) & 12(1)(a) of Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 at Bournemouth Magistrates Court on 11 August 2017.

House pleaded guilty to disposal by burning under sections (33(1)(C) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 at Bournemouth Magistrates Court on 11 August 2017.

Published 24 August 2017