Twice in a lifetime: repeat waste criminal jailed for dump at Talking Heads music venue
Appearing before Southampton Crown Court on Wednesday (14 September), Marcus Bairstow, 41, of Chelveston Crescent, Southampton, pleaded guilty to five charges put to him by a multi-agency investigation headed by the Environment Agency (EA). The sentencing comes five years after a previous two-year conviction for similar offences.
The court heard that Bairstow had rented a small plot of land in Eastleigh, where he accumulated waste until fires started to occur. One blaze, which grew out of control in July of last year, ignited a stack of timber in an adjacent unit, as well as causing damage to a tree and some fencing.
Prior to this, in January 2015, the investigation found that Bairstow forced entry to a farmer’s land in Rownhams in order to dump waste on it, and was spotted tipping waste from his van in the car park of the Talking Heads music venue the following month.
The judge, Miss Recorder Bussey-Jones, ruled that Bairstow committed deliberate acts that were carried out for financial gain and were a flagrant breach of his previous court order from March 2011. At that time, Bairstow was found guilty of several charges of fly-tipping waste in the countryside surrounding Southampton, following another major multi-agency investigation. He was also exposed by the BBC’s Rogue Traders programme, which bugged and tracked waste and filmed him dumping it.
In 2011, he was given a two-year jail sentence and an anti-social behaviour order for five years. The order banned him from most waste activities other than lawfully carrying waste.
Bairstow was subsequently arrested in September last year for the new offences and breach of his ASBO.
‘Wilfully’ ignoring obligations and responsibilities
Following the court’s ruling, Nigel Oliver of the EA said: “We are constantly gathering information on illegal waste sites, criminal activities and environmental crime in Hampshire and across the country as a whole.
“Together with our partners, we are taking a zero tolerance approach against waste offenders.
“In cases like this where individuals such as Mr Bairstow consistently operate illegally, we have absolutely no hesitation in prosecuting them.
“Bairstow was clearly aware of his obligations and responsibilities in the handling and treatment of waste but yet again wilfully ignored them, putting the local environment at repeated risk. I hope today’s ruling serves as a deterrent to any individual or company showing that waste crime does not pay.”
Responsibility of the waste producer to ensure waste criminals do not succeed
Last week a survey carried out by the ‘right Waste, right Place’ campaign found that while 97 per cent of businesses think they are complying with their legal obligations when it comes to waste – as set out by duty of care legislation – the reality is that almost half are breaching the regulations, leaving them open to the risk of unlimited fines, prosecution and closure.
The ‘right Waste, right Place’ campaign has been running through 2016 to help businesses understand what is required of them when dealing with their waste, and carried out the survey to understand the full extent of the lack of awareness of business waste rules.
Under waste duty of care, anyone that produces, carries, keeps, disposes of, treats, imports or has controls of waste in England or Wales must keep it safe, make sure it’s dealt with responsibly by businesses authorised to take it. This means that if a business’s waste is disposed of illegally by an unauthorised waste carrier, the business that created the waste is open to fines and prosecution.
However, through polling mainly small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) from across the country, the survey found that 48 per cent of businesses don’t know where their waste goes once it leaves the site.
Landowners, like the one that rented the plot in Eastleigh to Bairstow, are also responsible for the waste activities that occur on their property.
More information and interactive resources on businesses’ responsibilities for waste can be found on the right Waste, right Place website, and more information about how the EA investigates waste crime can be found in Resource’s feature article