A farmer running an illegal landfill site where 80,000 tonnes of waste were deposited has been sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Paul Morris, 47, of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, was also given 300 hours community order for unpaid work and 12 months supervision after accepting the waste at Carreg Bica Isaf Farm even though he did not have an environmental permit.
He was paid over a quarter of a million pounds to receive the waste, which included general and builder’s waste. Plaster boards, which break down to form harmful leachates (see picture below), were also deposited.
Morris denied the charge but was found guilty at Newport Crown Court last month. He was sentenced at the same court on 18 October.
Environment Agency (EA) officers visited the farm in August 2010, after neighbours complained about a strong smell.
Officers found decomposing waste and leachate escaping into nearby woodland.
Samples taken from the farm land in September 2010 revealed ammonia levels were as high as those found in raw sewage.
Investigations into the site were initiated by the Environmental Crime Team over three years ago. They found controlled waste being deposited into a disused reservoir in the Tredegar area.
Leachate from the waste was entering River Sirhowy.
In December 2010 a local waste company, and a property owned by Morris, were raided by over 50 EA officers in conjunction with Gwent Police. Officers seized enough evidence to bring the case to court.
Over 20 companies were investigated by the Environmental Crime Team after being identified as having tipped waste at Morris’s farm.
Morris’s actions without a permit were an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Gareth O’Shea, Natural Resources Wales operations manager South East Wales, said: “Natural Resources Wales will not tolerate those who seek to profit by breaking the law, harming local communities or damaging the environment.
“The motivation behind the crime was financial. The site did not have the necessary permissions and consequently the infrastructure to protect the environment and it undercut legitimate permitted sites.
“Disposing of waste illegally can harm the environment and undermines businesses that invest in the required measures.
“It is essential that we take action in such cases to protect people and the environment, as well as safeguarding the market place for legitimate operators.”
- The EA revealed this month that it had shut down 1,279 illegal waste sites last year, a 70% increase on the year before, according to the agency. This is the highest number it has ever shut down. However figures also revelaed that the number of successful prosecutions for waste crime actually fell last year with only 171 compared to 249 the year before.