The operator of an illegal biofuel operation who threatened neighbours when they complained about pollution has been given a suspended prison sentence.
A four-month term, suspended for 18 months, was imposed on Stuart Allen of Middlemarsh near Sherborne who was also ordered to pay £20,000 costs. He faces further legal action to recoup the estimated £50,000 clean-up bill after a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency (EA).
Allen was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work and made the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order prohibiting him from operating a waste oil or any other waste business for 10 years. The order was also issued to prevent him causing two neighbours any further “alarm, harassment or distress”.
Judge David Ticehurst warned Allen, who had admitted two offences of keeping controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm human health and failing to comply with seven anti-pollution notices, that he would be sent to prison if he appeared before him again.
Taunton Crown Court heard that waste oil polluted neighbouring properties and a stream. When two of his neighbours complained, Allen threatened them with violence.
In January 2015, EA and police officers visited the site and found Allen was operating an illegal waste transfer station with approximately 60,000 litres of mixed oils and food products being stored at Keepers Paddock.
The site was also being used for the production of bio diesel fuel but he had no environmental permits or exemptions to do so.
Allen said he collected approximately three tonnes of waste oils a week from catering businesses in the region and did not consider cooking oils to be harmful. Spillages were dealt with by “scraping it up”, he said.
The final cost of the clean-up could be as high as £50,000. West Dorset District Council had already spent £20,000 and might launch civil proceedings against Allen to recover this money.
The EA, which incurred £29,500 in investigation and legal costs, said: “This case is an excellent example of partnership working between the agency, the police, West Dorset District Council, HM Revenue and Customs and Dorset Council’s highways and social services departments.”