Man allowed over 2,600 tonnes of waste to be dumped on moorland site
THE owner of a moorland reservoir gave the go ahead for waste to be dumped on the site – right in front of Environment Agency officers telling him it would be illegal.
At Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court on Thursday, Clive Andrew Jones was ordered to pay over £11,600 after admitting to dumping construction waste on two sites in the district.
At one of these locations, Baildon Reservoir, he allowed over 2,300 tonnes to be dumped on the site – high on Baildon Moor.
Despite numerous warnings that what he was allowing was illegal, waste continued to be transported to the site.
Matthew Treece, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, told magistrates that dumping was allowed on sites in some circumstances with a permit. The waste had to be “inert”, such as soil, and a maximum of 1,000 tonnes could be dumped.
It also had to be proved that the waste was being used for construction, and not being “dumped on the cheap.”
He added: “Jones imported at least 2,315 tonnes of inert waste into the Baildon site without the appropriate permission in place.”
He said that amount was likely to be a “substantial under estimate” – but waste transfer logs showed at least that amount passing into the site.
There was also doubt as to whether the waste was being imported for “legitimate activity.”
Jones, 61, of Westgate Hill Street, claimed he needed it to strengthen the walls of the reservoir, but the Environment Agency believed he was charging builders to dump their waste here without having to pay costs such as landfill tax.
The Court heard that Jones purchased the site – three reservoirs on top of the moor – in 2015.
In 2016, an enforcement notice had been placed on the site to prevent Jones importing waste.
He had an exemption to dump waste, but this was removed once the waste exceeded the 1,000 tonne limit.
An Environment Agency officer visited the site in April 2018, and saw waste had been imported. Jones told them it was soil that had come from East Morton, and he was not happy with the quality. He was informed no waste should be arriving on the site at all, no matter what quality it was.
On May 18, 2018, officers observed numerous vehicles tipping their loads, including stone and timber with plastic contamination, onto the site.
Jones told the officers the waste was to “shore up” the reservoir walls.
Mr Treece said: “As officers were there a further waste vehicle arrived, and made preparations to tip.
“An officer asked Jones whether he wanted that to happen, given that it would be unlawful and that she was standing right there.
“He said he did and the waste was deposited.”
Officers visited on other occasions, and each time found that the land had been raised, and new waste apparently deposited. In July he told officers he had all the waste on site he needed. But further visits in August found the dumping had not stopped, and now included a black tarmac like substance.
In October officers found more waste had been imported into the site. Jones told them it was sandstone, not waste. It was obvious to officers that it was in fact soil and shale, and their suspicions were confirmed when a waste truck driver handed Jones a document describing 11 loads of soil.
The Environment Agency determined that since Jones had told them he had all the waste he needed on the site in July, a further 55 loads had been delivered.
Mr Treece said: “This all leans towards an attempt to make money from taking waste and disposing of it than any legitimate construction activity.”
The other side where Jones dumped waste was Burley in Wharfedale, near the Greenholme Mills development.
One load of concrete, plastic and bricks had been dumped in a channel belonging to a local angling club without permission in July 2018.
Jones had told the Agency that he thought the land fell within the Greenholme Mills Development site, which he was working on at the time. It did not.
When the Environment Agency decided to prosecute, Jones was interviewed. He was not able to provide some of the paperwork detailing what had come onto the site, as it had been “destroyed” during a break in.
Mr Treece told the court that by facilitating the illegal waste dumping, Jones had avoided huge amounts of costs, including landfill tax.
In total he avoided £27,000 he would have had to pay had the site been a registered waste site.
Mr Treece added: “With Baildon Reservoir we believe this was a deliberate, intentional breach of the law.”
Magistrates heard that Jones had previous convictions for similar offences.
Tariq Hussain, defending Jones, told the Court the previous owner of the site had stripped the reservoirs of their concrete, leaving them at risk of flooding.
He said Jones had been pressured by Bradford Council to make the site safe. Jones had planned to build homes on the site.
He said: “All the material coming to the site was to create banking. There was a pressure to protect the site from an environmental impact. He was trying to fix a problem.
“What he did was deliberate, but bear in mind the pressure being put on him by the Council.”
He said Jones was aggrieved that someone else had also dumped illegal waste on the site – without his consent.
Mr Hussain said on one occasion 500 tonnes of waste was fly tipped on the site by another construction company.
Magistrates also heard that Bradford Council has since taken ownership of the site following a legal battle with Jones.
Mr Hussain disputed the claim that Jones had made money from the site, claiming he had paid £30,000 in legal fees when the Council took ownership of the land and had gone bankrupt due to the site.
He added: “If you talk about divine retribution, in this particular case he has already been punished.”
Referring to a claim by Probation officers that Jones could be punished with a community order, Mr Hussain said: “He doesn’t want to burden the probation service.”
Jones was fined £2,461 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We hope that this ruling sends out a strong message that we will search out and prosecute anyone found to be dumping waste illegally.
“The operation of a waste site without regard for the environment and the law have the potential to harm our natural resources. It can also blight communities and undermine the legitimate businesses that do follow the rules.
“Our role is to protect the environment for people and wildlife, so we won’t hesitate to take action against those who put it risk. And to businesses flouting the rules our message is clear: you won’t get away with it.”