Businessman fined for illegally burning waste

A Bedfordshire businessman has been forced to pay almost £6,500 in fines and court costs after illegally burning waste on his farm.

Anthony West, who runs a marquee business, pleaded guilty to charges against him which included failing to adequately treat and dispose of controlled waste, which could cause significant damage to both the environment and humans.

Giving evidence at Bedford Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (September 21), the Environment Agency’s (EA) Sarah Nicholson told the court West first came to the attention of authorities in December last year, following reports of burning at his farm.

At that time EA officers found plastic soil pipe and adhesive tube being burned with wood and tree loppings and advised West of the dangers and criminal repercussions of burning plastics.

Following further reports of fires, EA officers turned to West’s farm nine days later and discovered two fires – both of which contained illegal materials.

“There was a distinct smell of burning plastic or rubber in the air,” said Mrs Nicholson.

“The larger of the two fires was about five by six metres and one metre high at the centre, the main bulk of which appeared to be rolls of thin foam-backed synthetic carpet.”

When questioned about the fire West claimed the illegal materials had been included by accident, after he had buried them under other waste which he intended to burn.

Further claims that he had disposed of surplus carpet from his marquee business at a legitimate waste site were also disproved.

Speaking after the hearing, EA officer Jeremy Hay said: “Emissions from fires such as these are likely to include toxic substances such as hydrogen chloride, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

“Had West listened to our advice nine days previously he could have avoided being convicted and fined.

“However, we will always endeavour to prosecute those who flagrantly breach environmental legislation – it is there to protect our environment.”

Anyone who notices illegal waste disposal or water pollution should contact the Agency’s 24hr hotline on 0800 807 060.

Sam Plester

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