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Farmer Found Guilty of Major Fly-Tipping Offence

Author: Mid Suffolk District Council Published: 24th March 2016 16:55




A 44 year old man from Walsham-Le-Willows has to been ordered to pay nearly £3000 by magistrates after being prosecuted today for a major offence of fly-tipping in Mid Suffolk during 2015.


On Thursday 24 March 2015, William Johnston, a partner in Sunnyside Farms of Walsham-Le-Willows, pleaded guilty to fly-tipping a large amount of industrial waste on the B1113 highway between Walsham-Le-Willows and Finningham.  At the hearing, which took place at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’, the court took into account Mr Johnston’s guilty plea before ordering him to pay a fine of £1000, the councils full investigation costs of £1660 and a victim surcharge of £100. 


The offence occurred on 9 April 2015 when, after finding a large amount of waste had been fly-tipped on his land, Mr Johnston decided to move it using tractors and trailers and dump it on the public highway.  The material consisted of several farm trailers’ worth of commercial waste, including carpet, underlay and packaging, some of which appeared to have been previously baled.  A witness saw tractors and trailers leaving the scene, and the incident was linked to the Sunnyside Farms Partnership, based at Cranmer Farm.


In August 2015, Mr Johnston was interviewed under caution by council officers and admitted to having dumped the waste on the public highway after it had been tipped on his land the previous evening.  Mr Johnston stated that he was fully aware of the correct procedure for disposing of waste, but had panicked because of the quantity and the likely significant cost of having to clear it properly.


Mr Johnston has now reimbursed Mid Suffolk for the cost of clearing the site which amounted to £4,000. Magistrates said they had taken into account his good character and the fact he had repaid the clear-up costs, but said they viewed the dumping as a very dangerous action which could have led to a serious road accident during the hours of darkness.


James Buckingham, Corporate Manager – Sustainable Environment, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case.  Fly-tipping is a serious offence, especially on this scale.  We appreciate that Mr Johnston was himself a victim of crime, but the way he responded to the incident was irresponsible and resulted in a great deal of time and expense by council officers and Suffolk Police, who could have been engaged elsewhere.  We take offences of this nature very seriously and make every effort to identify those responsible and pursue them through the courts.


Waste dumped by the roadside contributes to a £13,900 a year bill for removing fly-tipped waste in Mid Suffolk.  This bill is ultimately paid by council taxpayers, which is totally unacceptable.  Land owners should make every effort to secure their land against fly-tippers as they are responsible for the costs of clearing their own land.  Mid Suffolk will continue to place a high priority on the investigation of fly-tipping and indeed our investigations into the original offence relating to this case are continuing.”


Further information on preventing fly-tipping is available from the Tip-Off Suffolk webpages at http://www.greensuffolk.org/recycling/fly-tipping/.



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At 09:18 on 26th March 2016, behindthestory commented:
First the factual error; the road was not the B1113 but a single track lane, where drivers can do nothing but drive slowly. It's an exagerration to suggest that the farmer by removing the waste here posed any material danger to motorists. A quick check on a map by your reporter would have not gone amiss, nor would proper note taking in Court. It was clearly the wrong action for this farmer to move this waste off his land, but let's not forget he was likely exasperated, he himself, a victim of a fly tipping crime on a massive scale and probably not for the first time. A huge amount of industrial waste was driven out into the open countryside and dumped on his property. He's a victim of crime yet he finds himself prosecuted for it. This is wrong.

The real story you have omitted to spot is that fly tipping is epidemic and it is largely ignored by the police and ' Sustainable environment'. Land owners are always the ones who are left to clear up and they are the ones who bear the most of the burden and the costs fly tipping. It's a well known fact that in the absence of proper support from the Environment Agency and the Police, many property owners who find themselves victims of illegal fly tipping, deal with the problem by burning or burying waste dumped on their land. This is at great cost to the environment and to us all. This farmer likely felt he did not have the resources to deal with such a large amount and it evidently cost thousands to remove. The police rarely ever respond to reported incidents of fly tipping, indeed I understand they were called several times about this incident but declined to attend until a neighbour who happens to be a Councillor finally persuaded them to take notice. What did they then do? Instead of catching the fly tipper they prosecuted the victim.

This farmer clearly made a big mistake to which he quickly owned up. So by prosecuting instead of supporting him, by failing to pursue and catch the real criminals who dumped this waste, the Environment Agency and the police do little to enhance their reputation regarding the way they deal with the scourge of fly tipping. This is an inept and short sighted response and it's also counterproductive. Their actions against this farmer will likely only serve to increase the practice of burning and burying illegally dumped waste as well as embolden the real criminals. We all suffer as a result. Meanwhile, those responsible for dumping 25 tonnes of waste in the open countryside, remain at large and at liberty to offend again.

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