A West Yorkshire couple were given jail sentences by Leeds Crown Court for illegally dumping waste.
In a case brought by the Environment Agency, the couple and their two sons pleaded guilty to charges dating back to 2008 relating to their business, Brotherton’s Skip Hire in Menston, near Otley.
David John Brotherton, 57, Julie Mary Brotheron, 52, and their sons Daniel Brotherton, 23, and Sean Brotherton, 20, of Ghyll Mill, Bradford Road, Otley pleaded guilty to a series of waste offences spanning three years.
David Brotherton was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment. Julie Brotherton was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and 200 hours of community payback work.
Sons Daniel and Sean Brotherton were each given a 6 month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, and 150 hours each of community payback work.
Craig Hassall, prosecuting for the Environment Agency told the court that the Brothertons ran their skip hire business from three locations in Menston and Otley. Ghyll Mill on Bradford Road in Otley is the main base for their skip hire business. Tan House Farm in Otley was the family home and they also owned land to the south of Tan House Farm at Newall Carr Road, Otley.
Mr Hassall told the court that the Ghyll Mill site used to have an environmental permit, which set a limit of 60 tonnes of waste as the maximum amount that could be stored there.
However, the Environment Agency found that the actual amount of waste on the site exceeded the limit and there was estimated to be more than 300 tonnes when the site was inspected. Despite repeated warnings to David Brotherton, the waste was not reduced.
The situation was exacerbated when the environmental permit ceased to exist in April 2009 when David Brotherton was made bankrupt. This meant that all waste activity carried out at the site from April 2009 was illegal.
The court heard that in September 2009 Environment Agency officers visited the family and told them that the site now needed to be totally cleared of waste. However, the defendants became angry and suggested that they could just lock up the site and leave it with all the waste still there.
Evidence was gathered throughout 2008, 2009 and 2010 which showed that the site continued to be used for storing waste and that a fence which should have contained waste on the site had fallen down. Debris was seen blowing off the site and into a nearby stream.
During this time, Environment Agency officers found that wood and green waste had been shredded and spread on the Brothertons’ land at Newall Carr Road in Otley without the relevant permissions. There was evidence that waste had also been burnt at the farm.
David Brotherton was repeatedly warned that his activities were illegal and in January 2009 and enforcement notice was served requiring the waste to be removed.
By mid-April 2009 all four defendants had been charged with waste offences, however, observation of the Ghyll Mill site showed that it was still being used to tip waste.
However, after bail conditions ordered them not to tip waste at Ghyll Mill, the defendants moved their activity to the family home at Tan House Farm, with is in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Some of the waste had been tipped over a stream, which runs through neighbouring farms.
Further, more stringent, bail conditions were imposed, which the defendants chose to ignore by continuing to tip waste at Ghyll Mill.
The court was also told that David Brotherton has a number of previous convictions relating to his running of the business and Julie Brotherton also has a previous conviction for forging a waste carrier’s licence.
In mitigation at a previous hearing, David John Brotherton claimed that he had made efforts to sort the site out, that the deadline given to sort out the site was unrealistic and that he only continued to operate the site in an attempt to get enough money to clear it.
Julie Brotherton claimed that a drainage system was installed on the site, which meant that the water that went into the beck from the Ghyll Mill site was purified before it being discharged and that this demonstrated Mrs Brotherton had worked with the Environment Agency in the past.
Daniel Brotherton claimed he had no previous convictions, that he had no part in the administration of the business and that although he admits continuing to work at the site, he only did it out of loyalty.
In mitigation Sean Brotherton accepted that he was present at the 17 September meeting when the implications of the permit disclaimer were explained, and that although he is now a director of the business, it is not going well.
At sentencing, Judge Wolstenholme said that the Brothertons showed a persistent flouting of the law despite and advice from the Environment Agency, bail conditions and previous convictions.
Speaking after the case, Ian Cowie, environmental crime team leader said: "We are pleased with the sentencing of the case today.
"This has been a long investigation, as the crimes have been going on for so long. Our case clearly demonstrated that this family was intent on making money by taking in waste, even after it was no longer legal for them to do so.
"The Brothertons didn’t heed our advice or warnings, and showed their total disregard for the authority of the court by continuing to take waste on to their sites while their bail conditions expressly forbade it. By continuing to operate their business in this way they have not only made money, but have taken trade away from businesses operating legitimately."