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Illegal landfill operator pays million pound penalty

Assets of £1.27 million have been seized from a landfill site operator who illegally buried unsuitable waste. The conviction at Exeter Crown Court followed an Environment Agency (EA) investigation, dubbed Operation Cleansweep, which found that John Craxford and his company John Craxford (Plant Hire) had contravened the site permit since at least March 2003.

Buried waste at the Yannon Lane site at Kingkerswell, Devon, included wood, plastics, cardboard, electrical goods, carpet, garden waste and household waste. However, the site should have only taken inert materials such as soil and stone. The sites waste transfer station (WTS) was only supposed to accept 4,999 tonnes of mixed waste a year but it was found that it was taking far more than this. A number of other breaches of the sites permit were also discovered.

EA surveillance revealed that large volumes of mixed waste were being delivered to the WTS each day. The waste was delivered by local skip firms and building contractors, this waste was then buried daily. In January 2007, the site was shown to have taken more than 5,000 cubic yards of mixed waste for which more than £47,000 in fees were paid.

Working with the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) the EA was able to confiscate £1,194,638 million and Craxford was also ordered to pay £86,937 in fines and costs. The judge also warned Craxford, who was given a three year conditional discharge, that if he committed any offence within the three year period, this offence would be taken into account when sentencing.

EA environmental crime team spokesman Adrian Evans said: The scale of illegal tipping at this site is the worst I have encountered. Our investigation revealed a catalogue of offences, committed over a period of several years. By working in partnership with the ARA, we have been able to recover the money made from the illegal activity.

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