Developer faces £212k court bill

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An illegal waste operator from Baston Fen faces a £212,000 bill after putting residents at risk of the atmosphere being polluted.

Andrew Manton Pannell Freeman was ordered by Lincoln Crown Court to hand over £125,000 proceeds under the Proceeds of Crime Act from his activities.

He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work in the community and fined £12,500 on each offence to run concurrently; and to pay £75,000 costs to the Environment Agency.

Freeman was convicted of two offences for the deposit, treatment, storing and disposal of waste without being authorised by environmental permits at Baston Fen.

The court heard that he took waste ash, concrete, bricks and soils onto site to make aggregates and to landscape gravel pits between January 2009 and April 2010. He also received hundreds of thousands of litres of waste cooking oil and chemicals to make biodiesel.

Freeman admitted burning domestic and fly-tipped waste and acknowledged that others had burned skip waste on site. He needed a permit for the type of work he was doing and avoided the significant costs of permitting.

Mr Mark Harris, representing the Environment Agency, said officers regularly visited the site and wrote advice letters to try to get Freeman to comply with the regulations.

The court learned that 20,000 tonnes of power station ash mixed with lime dust and water was tipped into lagoons before being buried with thousands of tonnes of waste soils. The majority of the ash was still on site four and a half years after being tipped.

Thousands of tonnes of concrete, bricks and soils were also brought onto site to make a caravan park and tracks, but more waste was brought on than necessary showing that it was being dumped.

Freeman bought hundreds of thousands of litres of waste oil and chemicals to make biodiesel. On each visit between January 2009 and March 2011, officers saw hundreds of drums and intermediate bulk containers containing the chemicals and waste materials from the process. The drums were strewn about the site and the liquids had leaked onto the surrounding land creating a significant risk of pollution.

Following a complaint from a resident, two large areas were found on site containing burnt remains of UPVC windows, a mattress, paint tins, aerosols, oil containers, a metal drum with flammable liquid written on it, concrete, foam, plastic, wire, cardboard boxes, wood, fibre glass and brick and other waste.

The burning sites were cleared at the Environment Agency’s request but Freeman failed to confirm where the waste had gone.

Whilst there was no evidence to show actual environmental damage, burning of the waste types seen could harm human health or pollute the environment. The biodiesel and chemicals were stored in an unsafe way.

Mr Harris said significant time and effort was spent trying to get Freeman to comply with the regulations but he was ‘distinctly unhelpful’.

Mr David Travers, QC representing Freeman, said it had been a long-standing family ambition to create a leisure facility. Areas of the site were now going to be developed. The surrounding areas were habitats for rare plants. He said Freeman employed 50 people.

In sentencing, Judge Sean Morris said that Freeman behaved “arrogantly” to the Environment Agency and “thought he was above the rules”.

Environment officer David Hutchinson said: “Illegal waste activity like this creates risks to human health and the environment.

“As shown by this case the Environment Agency works to make sure that waste crime doesn’t pay.”

Waste crime can be reported to the Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 807060 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.