Surrey golf club by Gatwick Airport is used as dumping ground for 700 lorry loads of illegal waste

Two firms have been convicted of dumping waste at a golf club near Gatwick Airport, along with the owners of the course who allowed it to happen. A district judge called the behaviour “reckless,” handing down fines totalling £38,000.

An anonymous tip-off led the Environment Agency to the discovery of almost 700 lorry-loads of waste dumped illegally at Rusper Golf Club in Newdigate, near Dorking. Worthing-based Rusper Leisure Ltd allowed Crawley haulier Cook and Son Ltd and Bell and Sons Construction Ltd, of Faygate, to offload the waste, none of which had approval from the Environment Agency.

Rusper Leisure had planning permission to raise part of an embankment on the driving range by two metres to catch stray golf balls. But the agreement with Mole Valley District Council was to only use clean soil. Investigators from the Environment Agency found the surface of the bund contained glass, wood, plastic, tarmac, brick, concrete and other material. Similar loads were also dropped around the course and nearby.

Cook and Bell paid Rusper Leisure £100 a load for the tonnes of waste left on and around the greens in the second half of 2018. The investigation also discovered waste used to create more embankments and stockpiled close to woods on the edge of the golf course and in the club’s car park. Builders’ waste was mixed in with some of the soil.

Jamie Hamilton, the senior environmental crime officer who led the investigation for the Environment Agency, said: “Companies must ensure the Environment Agency authorises any tipping of waste in advance. Cook and Son and Bell and Sons, both established operators, discarded the waste over five months without making any meaningful checks the golf course could accept it.”

When interviewed, Rusper Leisure’s company secretary, Sara Blunden, told investigators she didn’t know the work needed a permit from the Environment Agency, claiming she believed planning permission from Mole Valley was enough to bring waste onto the golf course. Duncan Bell, a director with Bell and Sons, told the Environment Agency he did not check if an environmental permit was needed for the work when told planning permission was in place for raising the bund. Nor did he check where his company’s lorries were dumping the waste.

Christopher Cook, of Cook and Son, admitted his drivers left waste on the course and that he’d taken no further steps to find out if the site had a permit from the Environment Agency, beyond asking Bell if the site was legal for that purpose. Bu the land had limited planning permission, but no permit for the disposal of waste.

District judge Tessa Szagun fined Rusper Leisure Ltd, of Yeoman Way, in Worthing, £2,000 for running a waste operation at the golf club with no environmental permit. Costs were £3,000. For dumping banned waste, Cook and Son Ltd, of Rowley Farm, Lowfield Heath, in Crawley, was fined £24,000, with costs of £12,500. Likewise, Bell and Sons Construction Ltd, of Wimlands Farm, Faygate, was fined £12,000. Costs were £8,000. All three were given victim surcharge fees of £170.

For not having an environment permit, the Environment Agency charged Rusper Leisure Ltd with breaching regulation 12(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. Cook and Son Ltd and Bell and Sons Construction Ltd were both charged with breaching section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to the dumped waste.

No penalty was given to the Cook and Bell companies for failing to provide written descriptions of the waste, or to Cook and Son for not taking measures to avoid breaches of the law by Rusper Leisure Ltd. All charges related to the period June 1 to November 29, 2018. The three companies were convicted at Brighton magistrates’ court on 20 May, having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

Rusper Golf Club, which was opened by Ryder Cup captain and Open champion Tony Jacklin in 1992, has since closed.