AN ELDERLY businessman who turned his farm and a beauty spot into an illegal waste transfer station has been jailed for 20 months.
Derby Crown Court heard how Robert Byard, 65, of Hillside Farm, Wingerworth, flouted planning permission, environmental regulations and previous convictions to blight the countryside with tonnes of skip waste.
Judge John Burgess told him: “This was a deliberate and persistent flouting of the law and regulations of waste disposal and management.
“You carried on with little or no regard to restrictions imposed by law and it must have been profitable.”
Byard, of Harper Hill, Wingerworth, picked up skips, sorted waste and moved it on, according to the court, without Derbyshire County Council planning permission or an Environment Agency permit.
The Environment Agency prosecuted Byard and said there were piles of waste on the farm about three metres high including metal, wood, plastic, cable, bricks, breeze-blocks, concrete and soil.
Prosecuting barrister Diana Maudslay told how Byard had continued to operate despite previous convictions for waste disposal offences in 1997 and August 2000.
He was also serving a suspended prison sentence for waste offences in October 2008 when the Environment Agency exposed his on-going operation and two latest waste offences between November 2008 and October 2009 and between July and August last year.
Byard pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an unauthorised waste facility without a permit.
Defence barrister Richard Kimblin said: “The reality of the case is that he has been blinkered and has not paid attention to regulations.
“He turned a blind eye but is no longer involved in the waste and skip business and it’s clear this operation is finished.”
Judge Burgess sentenced Byard to a custodial sentence of 20 months and ordered him to pay legal costs of £53,949.
He told him: “You ran Hillside Farm as a waste transfer station, picking up skips, bringing them in and removing waste for onward transition and this was a waste operation that went beyond storage.
“You and others in the business of waste disposal need to know the courts will not ignore persistent breaches of the rules.”
The Environment Agency which investigated illegal waste operator Robert Byard hopes his 20 month jail sentence will serve as a warning to other offenders.
Dr Paul Salter, senior EA crime officer, told how he led investigations including surveillance, photographs and searches at Byard’s Hillside Farm, at Wingerworth, which uncovered unauthorised waste storage without planning permission or a permit.
He said: “We’re pleased with the sentence and the courts understand the importance of this operation for the environment and for people living in the community and for those using this land who would have seen this place as an eyesore.
“We were forced to take this to the courts as a last resort but the sentence will serve as a message to others attempting to do likewise by making easy money with the illegal disposal of waste.
“There was a visual impact with an extremely attractive area of countryside with woods and walking paths and a stream.”
Dr Salter explained that such waste operation sites require appropriate locations, local authority planning permission and an Environment Agency permit based on waste operators fulfilling strict criteria.
Diana Maudslay, prosecuting barrister for the EA, said by operating the site without a permit, Byard’s business made considerable savings and was operating at a significant advantage over its competitors.
The EA said Byard had avoided paying fees totalling nearly £13,000 and the costs of required site infrastructure such as concreted surfaces and drainage estimated at £10,000.
Dr Salter added: “This draws a line under a long-standing problem at this site and demonstrates our commitment to tackle operators who flout the law.
“There are still people who believe there is easy money to be made by illegally disposing of waste. This result shows the courts take these matters very seriously.
“This was a case of repeated offending, despite warnings and previous convictions. It was driven by greed with no thought to the effects upon people living near the site or the environment. We will not allow operators to ruin the countryside by putting profit before compliance.”