Pair told to pay £66k for running illegal waste site

The illegal waste site in Great Horkesley
The illegal waste site in Great Horkesley

A mother and son have been ordered to pay a total of £66,493 for operating an illegal waste site in a picturesque village.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that 14,700 tonnes of inert waste was dumped on land off The Causeway in Great Horkesley.

George Dench pleaded guilty to running the illegal site and failing to comply with an enforcement notice to remove the waste. He was ordered to pay a total of £32,895 in fines and costs on Monday.

His mother, Annette Williams, who owned the land, admitted allowing the illegal waste site to run and to failing to clear the land under an enforcement notice. She was told to pay a total of £33,598 in fines and costs.

Miriam Tordoff, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court that the waste had been deposited over two-and-a-half years.

Dench actively sought out companies to dump waste there, pocketing £64,704 in the process.

Mrs Tordoff said only certain low-risk activities can be covered by an exemption which sets out conditions that must be met at all times.

The exemption registered by Williams allowed certain types of construction waste to be left on the site, with the limit set at 1,000 tonnes of waste soils and stones in any three years. That target was reached in the first month.

A further exemption allowed the treatment of up to 5,000 tonnes of waste in any three years, providing it was also used on the same site and only stored for a year.

Dench told investigating officers he had brought the soils to the site to repair the bank of a lake.

He claimed he had not taken in the soils for financial gain, pointing out that he was now bankrupt.

Mrs Tordoff told magistrates that Environment Agency officers had advised and written to the pair, saying the site needed to be cleared and operated properly.

Between September 2012 and March 2015, the agency received 34 complaints about activities at the site.

After the hearing, Environment Agency crime team leader Lesley Robertson said: “We advised the defendants several times against accepting any more soils at the site, but they continued to take it.

“The site is in a village close to other homes, and operations there affected people living nearby.”

Councillor Simon Walsh, Essex County Council cabinet member for environment and waste, said: “This case is an example to show landowners that risk taking is not acceptable, whether it is a risk that concerns human health or the environment.

“Owning a piece of land means accepting a responsibility to the surrounding area and all that resides there, be it business, homes or wildlife.”