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Penalties total of £7,000 for waste offences

A farmer and a skip company were yesterday, Thursday 5 June, found guilty of waste offences and fined at Durham Crown Court.

Paul Shepherd of West Musgrave Farm, St Helens, Bishop Auckland was found guilty by a jury of knowingly permitting waste to be kept at West Musgrave Farm. In a linked case Albert Hill Skip Hire Limited of Dodsworth Street, Darlington, Co Durham pleaded guilty to depositing waste at the farm.

Paul Shepherd was fined £2000 and ordered to pay a contribution towards costs of £1000. Albert Skip Hire was fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £2000.

Lee Fish, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that Environment Agency officers visited West Musgrave Farm on 26 June 2006. They saw waste being moved about the farm by a tractor and trailer, and after an official search found large piles of mixed household and industrial waste on the site, which had no waste management licence.

Papers were found among the waste, which were then traced back to customers of Albert Hill Skip Hire. The customers had hired skips expecting that the waste would be taken and disposed of at a licensed site, and not in a farmer's field.

Paul Shepherd denied that he knowingly permitted the keeping of the waste on his farm, which is owned by his relatives and occupied by him.

Albert Skip Hire had pleaded guilty on 13 March 2008, and sentencing had been delayed until the outcome of the case against Paul Shepherd.

Andrew Rothery, of the Environment Agency's Environmental Crime unit, said: “This case shows the need for companies dealing with waste to ensure their working practices are properly researched and managed. In the case of the farmer, his failure to alert the authorities led to this.

“Businesses and householders should always make sure that if they hire contractors to take waste away from their property, they are a licensed waste carrier.”

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