15-month jail term for illegal waste site

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North Runcton waste operator Mark Fuller has been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for running an illegal site.

Norwich Crown Court heard on Thursday that he ran the illegal waste site for more than a year from Manor Farm in Common Lane without planning permission and without an environmental permit to deposit, store, dispose and treat waste.

In September 2010, Norfolk County Council served an enforcement notice on Mr Fuller requiring him to stop taking waste onto the land and processing the waste.

The waste included construction and wood waste. The enforcement notice was issued because the unauthorised uses were in the open countryside and their scale, form and mass cause harm to the landscape and amenity.

The notice was appealed by Fuller in August 2011, the court heard, but the planning inspector upheld the enforcement notice.

Fuller then lodged an unsuccessful application for permission to appeal against the Inspector’s decision with the High Court which delayed the effective date of the enforcement notice.           

Mark Watson, prosecuting on behalf of the council and the Environment Agency, told the court that despite correspondence, discussions, meetings and site visits by officers, Mr Fuller failed to respond to advice and continued to operate illegally. 

In November 2012, Environment Agency and Council officers inspected the site and found there was a large stockpile of wood waste, amounting to many thousands of tonnes and between 12 and 15m in height. Additionally there had been thousands of tonnes of waste soil and construction and demolition waste imported and stockpiled.

Fuller told investigating officers that he had not received the letters from the Environment Agency and said until officers visited him in November 2012, he thought the operation was legal.

Commenting after the case, enforcement team leader Phil Henderson said: “The operation of illegal waste sites pose significant risk to our environment and local communities, particularly where this involves the wholesale stockpiling of waste, as in this case. This sentence reflects the seriousness with which the Environment Agency, our partners and the courts view this type of criminal offending and we will seek to prosecute those involved wherever possible.

“ Operators need to ensure that they obtain the appropriate permission to operate waste sites and comply with the conditions of their permit”

County council officer Mike Adams said: “This is a case that has stretched the powers of planning enforcement to the limit.

“The defendant refused to engage with the planning system; appeals, including High Court challenges with very little merit were designed to frustrate the enforcement procedure and have lengthened and increased the cost of this process. 

“Three days after pleading guilty, Norfolk County Council’s investigations confirmed that Mr Fuller was continuing to breach the Enforcement Notice.”