Mark Anthony Walsh, 57, of Maidstone Drive, Marton, Middlesbrough, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 2 May, where he pleaded guilty to burning waste at Thorpe Larches in Sedgefield.
He was fined £5,800, ordered to pay £2,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £80.
Prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, Simon Crowder told the court that on 5 December 2016, the Environment Agency received information from Durham County Council about possible waste burning taking place on land at Beechgrove at Thorpe Larches in Sedgefield.
The following day two Environment Agency enforcement officers went to the property and spoke to Walsh, who said he had been burning waste packing which he had produced as a result of renovations on his own property. They left information with Walsh about the Environment Agency role and powers but did not see any evidence of burning.
In February 2017, the council contacted the Environment Agency to say they had received further complaints about burning waste at the land.
In March 2017, they received further information about fires at the address and attended the scene on two occasions. During one of the visits they saw no one was present with the fire. The waste pile was estimated to measure 5m by 2.5m and contained partially burnt household items along with a plastic wheelie bin, tin cans, garden waste, waste paper, metal springs and household electrical items.
During interview on 4 May that year Walsh said he only burnt bedding from the pig sty. Paul Whitehill, from the Environment Agency in the North East, said:
The evidence, including images and visits by our enforcement officers, shows Walsh burning waste on his land illegally.
Environmental laws are there to protect the environment and community and Walsh deliberately flouted those laws, putting the environment at risk. I’d encourage people to report waste crime to us so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.
Waste crime can be reported to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.