Tredegar farmer guilty of waste storage
10:40am Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
A FARMER who made a big profit out of storing 20,000 tonnes of waste including raw sewage was successfully prosecuted and has been found guilty.
The case of Paul Morris, 47, was brought to court by the Environment Agency after pollution levels became so high at Carreg Bica Isaf Farm in Hilltop, Tredegar, they would not have been able to sustain fish in rivers and could have killed off insects, the court was told.
Morris appeared before a jury this week after denying one count of knowingly permitting the deposit of controlled waste without a permit or a licence.
They found him guilty of the offence on Thursday and he was told he will be facing proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Environment Agency officers were called in after neighbours complained about the strong smell at the farm.
Morris, who has since moved to Mount Pleasant Road, Ebbw Vale, did not disagree about the contamination figures and had tried to comply with the Environment Agency throughout, according to his defence barrister, Gregg Taylor, QC.
The waste was decomposing and a dark-coloured run-off, known as “leachate”, was escaping along specially dug trenches and out onto nearby woodland.
Samples taken from the farmland in 2011 revealed ammonia levels were as high as in raw sewage, said Christopher Quinlan, QC, prosecuting.
Another Environment Agency officer, Moira Kitchen, said: “This was high polluting and affecting water. Salmon and trout wouldn’t have been able to survive, particularly from the ammonia levels.”
Judge Rhys Rowlands, who adjourned sentencing until October 18, told the court: “I take a fairly serious view of this. This defendant made a lot of money on what was scrubby land worth absolutely nothing.”
Morris had said he was certain that a waste company called Thomas Waste, which had brought the material onto his land, would be liable for any cost of removing the waste to a proper landfill. He added the company had tipped 20,000 tonnes of waste there in the previous six months.
Judge Rowlands said the evidence was “quite compelling” against Morris and the offence might result in him going to prison.
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