Suspended jail sentence for Cheshire illegal landfill owner

A landowner who pleaded guilty to turning his Cheshire farm into an illegal landfill has received a 12-month jail term suspended for two years.

The Environment Agency (EA) found that Eric Hale, of Bank Top Farm near Frodsham, had been dumping tens of thousands of tonnes of waste on his land without the appropriate environmental permit. Hale’s waste removal company, Eric Hale Skip Hire, had been using the 19-acre farm to dispose of the majority of its waste material to avoid paying for the use of a legitimate site.

Suspended jail sentence for illegal landfill owner
The illegal site in Cheshire

Hale, along with Steffan Street and Dennis Whiting, was observed during the investigation driving large waste vehicles to deposit a mixture of waste on the site, including carpets, mattresses, demolition waste such as plasterboard and trommel fines, a term which refers to any type of fine grit or residue screened out of waste material during the recycling process.

As well as the suspended jail sentence, Hale was disqualified from driving for 12 months, ordered to work 200 hours unpaid and given a three-month curfew where he is not permitted to leave his residence between 8pm and 6am. He also had to pay a £100,000 contribution to the EA’s costs, while Street and Whiting were each given a conditional discharge for two years.

The EA’s Area Environment Manager, Tracey Rimmer, commented: “This operation demonstrates how the Environment Agency works in partnership to tackle serious waste crime. We have worked closely with the police and local authorities to pursue these criminals and bring them to justice.

“Waste crime is a serious issue diverting as much as £1 billion per year from legitimate business and the Treasury.”

In January, new waste crime powers were announced for the EA to block access to illegal and problem waste sites and force operators to clear their waste. Resources Minister Therese Coffey also launched a consultation on further proposals to tackle waste crime in January, including council fines for those whose waste is illegally dumped.

This announcement came following a report by the Environmental Services Association in 2017, which claimed that lax regulation is responsible for a rise in waste crime in the UK.

The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, launched 11 January, promised a new strategic approach to tackling waste crime to be revealed in the Resources and Waste Strategy, expected in the later half of 2018.

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