Farmer fined £11,250 for running ‘illegal landfill site’

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A farmer has been fined £11,250 for illegally accepting waste onto his farm.

Brian Watson, trading as E Watson & Son, was fined at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last Friday after having previously pleaded guilty to depositing controlled waste on land without a waste management licence, and not removing the waste as required by a Notice served by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Watson had finally removed the waste from the site between October 8 last year and February 5.

On February 2, 2011, SEPA received a complaint about the alleged burying of asbestos on a site at Coneyhatch Farm in Stonehaven.

SEPA officers investigated and found no evidence of this. However, they did note other mixed wastes including tyres, metals, plastics, green material, construction and demolition waste.

The court heard that SEPA requested a meeting with Watson by post, but received no response. E Watson and Son was in the business of groundwork, haulage, site clearances and plant, skip and tipper hire.

COMPLAINTS

Following further complaints about the business, SEPA issued him with a final warning letter at the beginning of April 2011. It was explained that his site was not authorised to accept special and mixed waste and he should stop doing so immediately.

A site visit in May showed that there was a large volume of waste on the site and SEPA contacted Watson to ask him to provide an action plan before attending a meeting with officers. He was reminded that his site was not licensed to accept these wastes, and was advised that SEPA would have no option other than to send a report to the procurator fiscal if he continued to accept them.

At the meeting, which was held in June, Watson agreed that he would segregate the wastes he could legitimately use, and reduce the volume of waste on site by July 31. However, when officers checked towards the end of July they found that the agreed work had not been carried out.

A notice was served in September 2011 after a visit to detail what waste was present on the site. It required waste to be removed by October 31.

CHECKED

The site was checked again on November 7 and, while it appeared that some waste had been removed, most of what had been visible in the September was still present.

Abdulkadir Dawod, SEPA’s investigating officer, said: “He was essentially running an illegal landfill site which is a real risk to the environment. It also gives him a commercial advantage, which is unfair to those who operate legitimately and pay the cost of doing so. Landfill sites are complex operations requiring engineered liners, gas control measures and monitoring in order to prevent unacceptable and uncontrolled pollution of the environment. Legitimate local waste businesses pay for measures needed to protect the environment, and will also need to pay their licence fees. Mr Watson has not done this so, by charging to accept waste, he is able to make more of a profit than those who follow the law.

“We spoke to him on numerous occasions and he had a sufficient and generous amount of time to remove the waste and avoid the need for us to send a report to the procurator fiscal.

‘‘Having seen little improvement and little reduction of waste at this site we, ultimately, had no option left to us. We hope that the fine given to him will serve as a warning to anyone else thinking of doing the same thing.”