Adrian Walker, director of a now-liquidated vegetable processing company Trux+, was found guilty of illegally depositing and burning waste including vegetables and packaging on land at Hospital Wood, Auchterless, Turriff.

During a routine inspection in November 2007, SEPA officers discovered packing boxes, vehicle parts, insulation panels and furniture on the site, as well as large deposits of rotting potatoes, paper and wood waste.

There was evidence on site of a large fire and pools of surface water contaminated by vegetable waste contained gas bubbles produced by the decomposing waste.

Further visits between November 2007 and February 2008 showed that the company continued their unlicensed waste disposal operations on the site and SEPA officers witnessed more evidence of fires and large areas of ground covered with rotting vegetables.

Officers repeatedly informed the company that it was not appropriate to deal with rubbish in this way and provided advice on how it could be handled, but when officers attended the site again in June, following reports of large fires from members of the public, it was clear that a large amount of packing boxes had been burnt.

Thomas McLeman, SEPA’s investigating officer, said: “Mr Walker and the company were repeatedly told by officers that these activities were not permitted, but the practices continued.

“Decomposing vegetable matter produces leachate which can leak into groundwater and watercourses, and gases which enter the atmosphere and cause unpleasant odours. Burning plastics is recognised as causing noxious fumes which would undoubtedly have resulted in a discharge of atmospheric pollutants to the air.

“Essentially the company was running an unregulated landfill operation and has unfairly benefited financially by doing so, as competitors will have had to pay to transport their waste to a permitted landfill site and to dispose of it there.”

The Hospital Wood site has now been sold to another company, and the new owners are not connected in any way with this case.

Sam Bond

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