The Environment Agency - England and Wales

Medical waste was dumped on farm land

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A man’s farm became a dump when he allowed waste, including medical items, to be tipped and stored there without an environmental permit.

Neil John Spooner was today (Wed) fined £2,000 for two offences at Little Tressells Farm, The Tye, Margaretting, Essex and was ordered to pay full costs of £2,900 by Chelmsford Crown Court.

The court heard that a significant amount of mixed waste was deposited at the farm and a lagoon had been filled in with chopped waste plastics.

During an interview Spooner claimed that he did not know that this type of waste was being deposited there, as for part of the time he was working in London when it was tipped by three unnamed men. Spooner said that he only asked them for stony material to make a track for a paddock.

He said he had been quoted up to £500,000 to clear the rubbish and the house had been devalued by £1.5 million.

Spooner’s home, Little Tressells Farm, was repossessed on 25 November 2011and he was evicted from the following August. He was made bankrupt in January 2013.

Tim Poulding and fellow Environment Agency officer Peter Cooke first visited the farm on 10 January 2012. They saw a large lorry tipping fine material onto the ground.

Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said: “There was a lagoon filled with shredded plastic including fragments of plastic and rubber tubes, plastic syringe casings and card board drug packets.

“Spooner was told it was illegal to deposit waste without a permit. The next day, Mr Poulding wrote a letter to him reiterating the need to clear the waste by 23 February 2012.”

However, visits on 25 January, 10 February and 16 February showed no change in the quantities of waste on site. On the last date some of the waste had been moved around and a man on site said he had been employed by Spooner to separate the waste into different waste types.

Further visits on 4 April, 7 June and 19 September again showed no change in the waste on the site.

Amongst the medical waste there was no evidence of hazardous materials such as needles, body parts or blood products.

Mr Mike Warren, defence solicitor, said since the offences Mr Spooner had lost his house and been made bankrupt.

“The property was devalued overnight by the waste.”

Miss Recorder Champion in sentencing said Spooner had lost virtually everything and had ‘carried the can for others’ but had been 'foolish and irresponsible’.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Tim Poulding said: “Mr Spooner apparently made the decision to allow unnamed individuals to dump waste on his property and subsequently learnt that the waste type was not what he was expecting.

“It was his responsibility to check what was being tipped, by whom and whether or not this activity would comply with environmental laws.

“He could easily have prevented this material from being indiscriminately dumped on land in this attractive rural area.”

Spooner pleaded guilty to:

Charges

1. Between 1 December 2011 and 11 January 2012 on land at Little Tressells Farm, The Tye, Margaretting, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 9JX, you did knowingly permit the deposit of controlled waste when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the regulator pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 authorising the said deposit.

Contrary to section 33(1)(a) and section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990
Fined £1,000

2. Between 1 December 2011 and 23 February 2012 on land at Little Tressells Farm, The Tye, Margaretting, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 9JX, you did submit waste to a regulated activity, namely storage, when there was not in force an Environmental Permit granted by the regulator pursuant to Regulation 13 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 authorising the said storage.

Contrary to section 33(1)(b) and section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Fined £1,000

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