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Landowner Who Profited from Unlicensed Waste Facility Pays with His Liberty

Operating unauthorised waste handling facilities can be highly profitable – but that is balanced by the severe punishments imposed for doing so. In a case on point, a landowner paid with his liberty after turning agricultural land into a smelly and hazardous waste dump that blighted neighbours’ lives.

During the three years in which he operated the unlicensed facility, the man made six-figure profits. Hazardous materials handled on the site included aluminium-contaminated sand, which posed a risk of explosion. Some of the waste was buried, but much of it was burned, creating thick and acrid smoke.

Over 25,000 cubic metres of waste – weighing over 10,000 tonnes – was processed on the site and some of those living nearby felt constrained to leave their homes to escape the fumes. After the Environment Agency launched a prosecution, the man pleaded guilty to six offences in connection with the unpermitted waste activity on the site. He was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment.

The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal dismissed his challenge to the sentence. A very high level of nuisance was caused and the manner in which he ignored repeated warnings was bound to have had a corrosive impact on public confidence in the regulatory regime. His punishment was fully merited by his flagrant disregard of the law for his own financial benefit.

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