Waste operator jailed for 26 months on six counts of illegal waste disposal
A waste operator who traded under a fraudulent waste carrier's registration number has been jailed for more than two years for persistently dumping, burying and burning hazardous waste.
John Bruce, who trades as UK Plant Services, was sentenced for six charges of illegal waste disposal at Ridgeway Park Farm, Throckmorton Airfield, Worcestershire takin place from 2011 to 2014.
The Environment Agency, which brought the prosecution, estimated that 26,000 cubic tonnes of waste had been taken to the airfield during the offending period. It consisted of construction and demolition waste, including aluminium which is classified as hazardous.
Bruce was jailed for 26 months at Worcester Crown Court, which also ordered confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The court heard that 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.
Environment Agency officers met with Bruce several times, 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 Bruce, all enforcement actions from the agency 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.”