A County Durham man has been given a suspended prison sentence for illegally depositing and burning waste.
Following an investigation by the Environment Agency, Christopher John Nash, 34, of James Street South in Murton, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Friday, September 18, where he pleaded guilty to 2 offences of operating a waste facility without a permit.
He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community, and pay £2,500 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
He was also required to remove the remaining waste and remediate the site – which is at Saanen Lodge, Haswell Plough - within 56 days, including re-seeding the burned areas.
Acting on behalf of the Environment Agency, solicitor Simon Crowder told the court that Nash – who runs Murton Recycling - used the site as a waste site, dumping waste and then burning it.
In April 2014, Environment Agency officers saw large amounts of waste in the yard together with a fire burning, and Nash was advised to stop bringing waste to the site.
During July the same year more waste and evidence of burning was seen at the site, with Nash telling officers he’d been away and it was down to the people working for him. He was given further advice and told again to stop bringing in waste.
Several visits in the following months saw fresh waste, including metal, sofas, carpet, paper and cardboard left at the site and in October Nash was interviewed by officers. He said he’d had a reduction in staff numbers, and added that he was no longer taking waste in at the site.
But further visits saw new waste deposits and evidence of burning, and he was interviewed a second time in April 2015, where he accepted he had said he would clear the site of waste, but his financial situation had made that difficult.
The Environment Agency’s Dave Edwardson said:
Waste crime of this nature can have a terrible impact on the environment and local communities – that’s why it’s vital those who handle waste work within the regulations.
Nash showed a disregard for environmental protection laws and continued to take in waste and burn it even after numerous warnings from our officers.
Illegal waste sites like this undermine legitimate businesses, and while we work with businesses to help them meet their environmental obligations, where there are breaches we’ll take enforcement action.
Anyone who has information about waste crimes can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.