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Authorities recover £75k from two Devonshire waste tippers

Assets of £75,000 have been recovered from two Devon waste criminals in a South West first of its kind confiscation by the Environment Agency (EA) and the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA). Devon farmer Geoffrey Cox and ground work contractor Thomas Gait were found guilty of running an illegal landfill site where more than 30,000 tonnes of waste, some of it hazardous, had accumulated. Financial benefits from the site were estimated by the ASA to be more than £50,000. Assets equal to this value were then recovered. The problem was revealed when Cox reapplied for an exemption for the site when the waste management licensing regulations were amended in 2005. Regulations required certain activities to reregister and include more details about their operations. Coxs application was for an exemption for Cannington Mill, Witheridge to enable suitable wastes to be used for a building base. However, the Environmental Crime Team found the site was being used as landfill. The waste had extended into the River Dalch floodplain, which increased flood risks and adversely affected local plants. While most of the waste was relatively clean subsoil and concrete, more than 2,000 tonnes of fines were found, which were consistent with residue produced during household, commercial and industrial waste processing. Samples of this contained oil and heavy metals, which classified it as hazardous waste. When interviewed Cox said he had asked Gait to facilitate the tipping operation on the site and they split the profits. Exeter Crown Court ordered that £50,636 be seized from Gait and £25,318 be taken from Cox. Environmental crime officer Richard Cloke commented: If you are an offender, we will track you down and take you to court. We can then refer the case for confiscation proceedings which will endeavour to recover any monies and assets made from illegal earnings. Cox was also fined £11,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,241. While Gait also admitted to two offences under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act, and was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £7,621 towards costs. Image: Trees are smothered by the waste overspilling from the Cannington Mill site

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