A woman from Kent whose family business was running an illegal waste has been given a suspended six-week prison sentence.
Billie Mete, 27, helped her father and sister run the operation for two years at their farm near Faversham.
The Environment Agency prosecuted Billie Mete, James Mete and his other daughter, Lucy Mete, after discovering 135 lorry-loads of soil and builders’ waste were being dumped and treated at Thirwell Farm in Drove Lane, Hernhill, between 2014 and 2016. The work needed an environmental permit, which it didn’t have.
A previous hearing at Maidstone Crown Court heard Lucy Mete, 26, owned part of Thirwell Farm, where she also lived, allowing her father, James, 56, of the same address, to use the farm to deposit and treat the materials against the law.
Chris Back, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency in Kent, said:
This was a deliberate breach of the law. James, Lucy and Billie Mete all knew their actions amounted to a criminal offence, but still allowed waste to be dumped, kept and treated at Thirwell Farm for a number of years with no permit from the Environment Agency.
The Metes’ illegal activity affected the public’s enjoyment of the area, as a footpath ran through the site.
The Environment Agency requires the support of legitimate waste operators and the public to report all illegal waste operations to us, so enforcement action can be taken.
Thirwell Farm still does not have any permit to allow the deposit and treatment of waste.”
In April 2015, officers from the Environment Agency and Kent Police raided Thirwell Farm following a number of reports of waste being tipped there. Officers found many large piles of waste soils and rubble, as well as machinery for processing it. During the visit, environment officers turned back a lorry that had arrived to tip waste.
Both the lorry driver and the owner of a building supplies firm gave statements to the Environment Agency saying James Mete was their main contact at the farm, despite him saying in interview he didn’t encourage firms to drop waste there.
Following a six-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court in March this year, a jury found James Mete, Lucy Mete and Billy Mete guilty of breaking environmental law.
On 10 July 2019 Billie Mete was sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for two years. She was also given 28 days in jail for breaching the terms of her bail by not attending court for sentence in March, but walked free from court having already served more than half this amount.
Warrants remain in force for the arrest of James Mete and Lucy Mete, both of whom failed to attend court for sentencing in March.
James Mete, Lucy Mete and Billie Mete were each convicted of one count of breaching regulation 12 (1) (a) of the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2010.