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Heavy penalties for waste offences

Illegal waste has plagued land just north of Pyebush Roundabout, Beaconsfield fo r many years. But Aylesbury Crown Court today issued a community service order and fines to two parties in connection with breaches of the Environmental Protection Act.

Mr Andrew Lonsdale was ordered to perform 260 hours community service after he pleaded guilty to three offences of allowing the deposit and treatment of waste and depositing waste to build an excessive bund on the land between 6 June and 10 October 2005. He also pleaded guilty to treating waste again between 23 August and 1 September 2006.

Mr David Smith (Christchurch Road, Ringwood Hampshire) pleaded guilty to a charge of allowing the illegal deposit of waste during a four month period in 2005. Aylesbury Crown Court today fined Smith £15,000.

The defendants were ordered to pay the Environment Agency's costs. Lonsdale was ordered to pay £1000 towards the Environment Agency's costs while Smith was ordered to pay £4011. Smith was also ordered to pay compensation to the Agency of £4871 for licence fees that had been avoided.

Some of the historic waste was contaminated. The landowners failed to respond to a notice to clean the area and the Council made their own arrangements for the site. So the council instructed its own contractor, who acted beyond the scope of their agreement and brought additional material (approximately 10 500 cubic metres) on to the site.

The landowners became aware of the situation instructing Mr Smith (one of the landowner's husbands) to act on their behalf. A contract was drawn up in May 2005 between them and the council for the remediation of the site. An important provision was that the landowners were responsible for ensuring compliance with all relevant permissions and legislation and that no bund could be built until after remediation was complete and the planning authority had been consulted.

Environment Agency and council officers visited the site following reports of lorries entering and depositing waste (May 2005). They advised Lonsdale and Smith that they may treat the material that was already on site provided no further waste was to be brought in, and they complied with their legal obligations.

The officers then visited Pyebush seven times between June and October 2005 and twice in August 2006. During those visits officers found a large amount of construction and demolition waste on the site including soils, concrete, bricks, wood plastics and metal.

A survey on 10 October 2005 estimated that 9000 cubic metres of material (equivalent to 600 lorry loads) had been brought to the site since February 2003. By this time parts of the land had been raised by 500mm and a bund, which was only meant to block the entrance, extended around the majority of the site. When visiting the site in August 2006 Lonsdale was seen treating the waste in the bunds again.

When sentencing the Defendants Judge Cripps said that written agreement was clear and waste was imported despite oral and written warnings. Judge Cripps stated that the Defendants appeared to have taken no steps to stop work or make proper enquiries with relevant agencies and the work was carried out with the knowledge that they may be in breach of waste legislation. The activities in August 2006 further aggravated the situation against Lonsdale.

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