Melksham farmer sentenced for allowing waste to be dumped on his land

Lee Hazel and his company Melksham Metal Recycling have yet to be sentenced for their part in the dumping at Queenfield Farm

Lee Hazel and his company Melksham Metal Recycling have yet to be sentenced for their part in the dumping at Queenfield Farm

First published in Melksham
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A farmer who allowed his land to be used as an illegal dumping for waste has been spared an immediate jail term.

Richard Bourne, 67, allowed builders' rubble and other material, including Tarmac and stone slurry, to be tipped on his land at Queenfield Farm in Forest, near Melksham.

And when the Environment Agency started to investigate, Bourne tried to hide what he had done by flattening it into the ground.

Now he will not only have to find £15,000 towards the costs of the case but was also given three months to make good the damage caused by his offending.

Bourne denied any wrongdoing but was found guilty of operating a regulated facility without a permit on or before May 21, 2012, after a trial at Swindon Crown Court.

Also convicted was Lee Hazel, 46, of Pembroke Road, Melksham, and his company Melksham Metal Recycling and they will be sentenced at a later date.

Bourne had allowed the waste to be dumped on land at the farm, held in trust for his wife and her sisters, close to where his cattle grazed.

Alex Daymond, defending, told the court on Wednesday that his client had used most of the material and still contested that it was dumped.

He insisted he had not made any money out of what happened and pointed out that none of it was alleged to be 'noxious or toxic'.

Mr Daymond said his client was now an elderly man and had worked the land there for 30 years.

Judge Tim Mousley QC said: "This is a serious offence not just in the quantity and period you allowed it to be left on your land. You were obstructive to the Environment Agency.

"This was deliberate and flagrant. The land that the material was left on was fairly remote front he road. Doubtless you thought your activities on that land would go undetected.

"When it was detected you made efforts to disguise what was going on by flattening out the material. That makes this offence very serious.

"This was deliberate activity, as I have indicated I am satisfied that it had significant adverse effect on the amenity value and the property.

"In addition there are aggravating features to what you did which increases the starting point of the sentence.

"First was the location of this offence: near your own livestock.

"Second this was of course an offence committed for financial gain but even today the amount of the financial gain is uncertain and you have chosen not to disclose how much you were making out of it.

"Thirdly I have in mind the obstruction of justice. Your attitude to representatives of the agency and attempts to conceal what was going on."

He imposed a 15-month jail term suspended for two years and told Bourne to pay £15,000 towards the costs of the case.

The judge also gave Bourne three months to comply with a remediation order instructing him to undo the damage caused by his offending.

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