Farmer to pay £250,000 for illegal landfill

A Chesterfield man has been hit with a confiscation order for illegal waste activities at his farm

Derbyshire farmer Robert Nicholas Byard has been ordered to pay £250,000 for a series of waste offences at his farm near Chesterfield.

The confiscation order must be paid by October or he will be jailed for 30 months and remain liable for the sum.

Byard received the order on 21 April at Derby crown court. It followed his prosecution on 20 October 2008, when he pleaded guilty to 20 offences under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This concerns unpermitted treatment, keeping or disposal of waste.

He received a 48-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and an 18-month supervision order. He was also instructed to do 50 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

The order is the largest secured by the Environment Agency’s Yorkshire and north-east region, in conjunction with a police regional asset recovery team.

It continues the agency’s growing use of powers to seize illegal profits under the Proceeds of Crime Act (ENDS Report 422, pp 7-8). This allows confiscation orders to be made if profits are probably illegal – the civil standard of proof – rather than relying on the criminal standard of being beyond reasonable doubt.

The agency began surveillance of the farm in March 2007 after receiving complaints. Officers found large amounts of domestic and construction waste, some of which had been burned. It had been transported in skips and on a tipper truck owned and operated by Byard.

He was arrested two months later and his property searched. Evidence of unpermitted landfilling was found, but he refused to cooperate with the investigation and continued his activities into the following year.

The court heard in mitigation that Byard was in poor health and had financial difficulties. His activities also caused no long-term environmental damage.

But the judge noted the offences had been ongoing, the skips used were unmarked and Byard knew a licence was needed. The burning also caused a public nuisance.

The judge concluded that Byard had received more than £46,000 from the skip business and £2,000 from the sale of scrap metal. He had also saved £50,000 by avoiding licence fees and had not been faced with paying to dispose of the waste.

Byard’s 2008 court appearance was not his first. In July 1997, he was found guilty of disposing of green waste without a waste management licence and was fined £4,000 (ENDS Report 270, p 45). Three years later, he pleaded guilty to seven waste offences under the act and was ordered to do 120 hours of community service.

He was also warned about his activities in 2005 and was given forms to apply for a waste management licence.

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