A landowner operating an illegal waste site has been fined £15,000, ordered to pay £20,000 in costs, and given an eight month prison sentence - suspended for two years - and ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work.
The landowner, Roger Frederick Phipps, pleaded guilty to several planning enforcement violations and running a waste site without a permit. He was illegally storing piles of tyres, scrap metal and various other waste, as well as repeatedly burning waste on Michelins Farm near Rayleigh.
The farm did not have a waste permit nor planning permission to operate the site, Chelmsford Crown Court heard this week (29 January).
Phipps was fined £15,000 for breaching two planning enforcement notices that had been served by the council in 2002 for infractions of planning control at the farm, which is on green belt land. One notice ordered the removal of tyres, vehicles, waste and caravans on the land, and one required the removal of a lorry back and three mobile buildings.
Since then only the mobile buildings have been removed.
Covert surveillance by the Environment Agency (EA) in May 2010 found lorries taking waste to the farm and smoke regularly coming from the site.
Barrister Mark Watson, prosecuting for the Environment Agency and Rochford District Council, said that between December 2009 and June 2010 the fire service attended 35 fires at Michelins Farm, mostly at night when thick black smoke was seen coming from the land.
Plastics, tyres, building materials and cylinders were observed in the fires.
Phipps was arrested and questioned in June 2010 and interviewed again in July 2010 but gave no comment to questions, Mr Watson told the court.
Waste was still being stored and burned at the farm six months later after the enforcement notices were given.
The site was also run without an environmental permit from April 2008 to 2011.
In sentencing Phipps, the Judge David Turner QC said he had flouted environmental and planning law to a significant degree and for a considerable time.
“He took an entrenched position and was a cantankerous individual,” he said.
The Judge said that although the pensioner has limited income he could sell the site to pay the fines.
After the hearing Environment Agency officer Kelly Short said: “Significant amounts of waste were taken onto site, stored, sorted and burned. The smoke caused a nuisance and in some cases could have harmed people’s health.
“Phipps knew he needed a permit to run the site but ignored our advice for years.”
Phipps has been ordered to remove the waste from the Michelins Farm in four stages by the end of January 2014.
“We continue to work closely with Rochford District Council to stop this site operating illegally,” said Short.