Two men face charges for multiple waste crimes
Kenneth Davies and Phillip Lear were operating various waste disposal businesses without the required environmental permits and on land close to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Two sites in Aberarth, Ceredigion, were the focus of the investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the regulatory body for the environment in Wales: Arthurs Land and the Smithy. Aerial pictures taken by a police helicopter revealed that a huge amount of waste was present on both sites and that a range of waste activities were being carried out, such that a permit would be required.
At the Smithy, investigators noted:
- The burning of waste;
- The storage of hazardous waste, mixed waste and general household waste;
- Evidence of scrap metal treatment including about 40 end-of-life vehicles and 20 caravans;
- Recyclable waste which had been baled and segregated;
- Rotten food waste strewn over the site either in black bags or on the ground which was serving as a food source to the geese, turkeys, chickens and cats living on the site;
- Skips and a large metal cylindrical container that were being used for incinerating waste including plastics and metal; and
- Approximately 40 to 50 gas cylinders, several of which contained highly flammable propane, butane, oxygen and acetylene gas.
All waste material was stored and treated on unmade ground, which increased the risk of pollution. In addition, at Arthurs Land, a range of waste types were being stored, including waste metals, gas canisters and sewerage waste.
Back in July 2015 the defendants were ordered to clear the land before January 2016, but subsequently failed to do so. Nor did they provide complete evidence that they had used an official licensed waste carrier for the waste that was removed, and in that time in fact dumped more waste at the sites.
Since then, the Welsh Government has approved new, tougher waste crime powers to enable officers to prevent access to problem waste sites and force operators to remove illegally-dumped waste. Announcing the measures in March this year, Welsh Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn stated that they “will create a level playing field and help ensure operators who comply with the rules do not lose out to those who undermine and undercut the law-abiding majority.”
Both Lear and Davies have been charged with ‘treating controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health’ and ‘operating a regulated facility for the disposal and recovery of waste otherwise than under an environmental permit’. The trial will take place at Swansea Crown Court from 3-17 September.
Erin Evans-Smyth, Senior Environmental Crime Officer for NRW, commented: “The defendants in this case have carried out their illegal activities over several years and during this time have shown a complete disregard for the law and the impact their activities have had on the local community and the environment.
“Working with complete disregard for the law, people and the environment and despite a history of waste-related prosecutions they carried on operating illegally, even burning waste to avoid having to lawfully dispose of it.
“We hope this case will send out a clear message that we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour and will continue to protect people and the environment, as well as safeguarding the market place for legitimate operators.”