A Devon farmer has been ordered to pay £35,265 in fines and costs for illegally dumping and storing waste in a beautiful area of countryside in the Exe Valley near Tiverton.
The case was brought by the Environment Agency.
William Dolley, 42, displayed a ‘blatant disregard’ of the law and stockpiled large quantities of waste at Holwell Farm,Collipriest, Tiverton despite repeated offers of advice and warnings from the Environment Agency.
The offences date from April 2010 when Agency officers visited the defendant’s farm to investigate reports of waste being illegally deposited and burnt. Looking inside a Dutch barn they found what one of the officers described as ‘an absolute mess’ with a huge pile of mixed waste half-filling the building that is visible from the popular walking trail, the Exe Valley Way.
The waste included cardboard, plastic sheeting, wood, glass, metal, pallets, paint cans, vinyl flooring, wooden window frames, electrical cable, plasterboard, two armchairs, a sofa, a tv, polystyrene, carpet, a bath, a fridge freezer and black plastic bags containing rotting food and soiled nappies.
In June 2010 officers had to abandon their search of another part of the farm after a prescription for Methadone was found in a plastic bag and there was risk to their health and safety from discarded hypodermic needles.
A court heard how Dolley, known locally as ‘Dougie’ Dolley, had originally collected controlled waste from the Tiverton area for disposal at a lawful site. When that site shut, he started using Holwell Farm to store and dispose of waste. Despite being prosecuted for similar waste offences in 2003 and 2008, he increased the scale of his illegal activities.
During a follow-up visit officers found several loads of waste including roofing tiles, wood, plastics, aerosol cans, mattress springs and plastic window frames in a field next to a local sewage treatment works adjoining the Exe Valley Way.
In June 2010 the defendent was served with a Anti-Pollution Works Notice under the Water Resources Act after to repair a partially collapsed slurry store. When an Agency officer returned to the farm in early October 2010 he noticed no attempt had been made to repair the slurry store and that slurry was flowing halfway across an adjoining field with a risk of it polluting a tributary of the River Exe.
Officers visited the farm again in February 2011 following more complaints and saw approximately 250 tyres in a heap along with other waste materials in an area previously used for the illegal burning of waste.
Dolley was finally caught after a thorough and painstaking investigation by the Agency’s Environmental Crime Team who are targeting waste offenders across the south west.
‘This case involved a blatant disregard for the environment and the law governing the handling and disposal of waste. The defendant had been prosecuted for similar offences on two previous occasions, but failed to learn from these experiences and continued to ignore the advice and guidance the Agency gave him over a prolonged period of time. In the end we had no choice but to prosecute,’ said Ashley Davies for the Environment Agency.
William Dolley, of Rosebank Cottage, Holwell Farm, Collipriest, Tiverton was fined £14,250 after pleading guilty to knowingly causing or permitting the deposit of controlled waste at Holwell Farm between April 2010 and March 2011 and £7,000 for failing to comply with an Environment Agency works notice in relation to a slurry store at Holwell Farm. He was also orderd to pay £14,000 costs plus a £15.00 victim surcharge at the end of a three day trial before Exeter magistrates.
Five other businesses received formal cautions for illegally supplying William Dolley with waste materials and for failing in their duty of care.
Businesses disposing of waste must ensure they make the necessary checks and only use registered waste carriers and the correct documents known as waste transfer notes. For help and advice contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 or check the website www.environment-agency.gov.uk
Anyone with information on illegal waste sites can contact the Environment Agency on a free 24 hotline 0800 80 70 60.