Illegal waste dump costs couple £445,830 after council takes action

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A Whittlesey couple have had to pay nearly half a million pounds in fines, legal costs and remedial action after illegally dumping thousands of tonnes of waste on land near Pondersbridge.

Luton Crown Court heard on Tuesday, that Sean and Kerry Reilly of Manor View, 1 Garden Grove, Whittlesey, allowed the demolition and construction waste to be tipped on a former petrol filling station and an agricultural field for 6 years.

In July 2009 Cambridgeshire County Council served an Enforcement Notice on the couple instructing them to stop tipping the waste and to restore the land. The tipping stopped shortly afterwards but the couple refused to carry out any restoration work until the Council began legal proceedings against them in June 2011 which also included restraint orders being granted against their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The couple subsequently employed a contractor to restore the land under the supervision of officers from Cambridgeshire County Council at a cost of £369,300. The field has been returned to agriculture use and has been seeded with winter barley.

His Honour Judge Stuart Bridge indicated the wilful and persistent breach of the notice had been deliberately ignored to maximise profit and would affect competitors.

The couple were sentenced 4 December at Luton Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to failing to complying with the Enforcement Notice.

The court heard the defendants were previously of impeccable good character and they had worked hard to build up their business which employed 50 people locally. They had recently restored the land to the satisfaction of the Council but it was acknowledged they had not played by the rules. Their defence asked that any fine imposed on the couple for failing to comply with the Enforcement Notice should “sting not wound.”

Sean Reilly was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £15 victim surcharge and Kerry Reilly was fined £5,000 and also ordered to pay £15 victim surcharge. The couple were also ordered to pay £31,500 in legal costs.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: “We welcome the decision by the Court today. Prosecution is a last resort as the authority always tries to help businesses rather than take legal action. This couple wilfully allowed rubbish to be illegally dumped on this land without permission and made a profit from it. We have a duty not only to enforce planning rules that prevent this but also to protect those companies who lawfully dispose of waste and rightly pay to do so. We hope this is a warning to others not to ignore enforcement notices and to carry out legal operations.”

The land is on the south side of Ramsey Road, Pondersbridge where the couple ran Kerry Plant Hire (Peterborough) Limited from June 2004 until May 2011.