A PLANT hire operator has been jailed for illegally dumping vast quantities of controlled waste at sites in Swansea and Carmarthenshire, including thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil from a new rail depot.
Samuel Gordon Nookie Burton also dumped skip-loads of rubbish – soiled nappies and rotten food among it – at the rear and front of a house in Llanelli in what Judge Paul Thomas QC described as a “totally spiteful act”.
Sentencing Burton at Swansea Crown Court to 15 months in prison, Judge Thomas said it was impossible to calculate the quantity of waste the defendant had dumped but that “it was near industrial in scale”.
He added: “Levels of fields were altered significantly.”
Judge Thomas told Burton, 41, of Cysgod Y Cwm, Cynheidre, Carmarthenshire, that he ran a business “which was quite simply making money from criminal activity”, and that he showed a “complete and utter contempt for any regulatory regime”.
The offending period was between 2012 and 2017, while the dumping at the house in Murray Street, Llanelli – which followed a contractual dispute with the owners – was in 2019.
Judge Thomas said Burton’s offending was prolonged and persistent despite warnings from regulator Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which brought the prosecution.
He said he took into account Burton’s guilty pleas and accepted he had mental health issues, but noted his previous convictions.
Also appearing via video link for sentencing was William Howard Walters, of Tirmynydd Farm, Birchgrove, Swansea, for disposing of controlled waste at the farm and contravening the requirements of an environmental permit.
Those dumping waste at the farm included Burton.
Judge Thomas said Walters’s offending was deliberate and for financial gain.
He said: “Even after you were given the clearest possible warnings from Natural Resources Wales, you continued unabashed with your activity.
“The cost of the clear-up of the site will be significant.”
He sentenced the 73-year-old to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, imposed a 15-day rehabilitation requirement and ordered him to pay a £2,000 fine and £1,000 towards prosecution costs.
Judge Thomas said environmental crimes impacted on everybody.
Addressing the pair, Judge Thomas said: “You both knew the system and you both flouted it.”
Speaking afterwards, NRW’s South West operations manager Gavin Bown said it was important to protect the environment.
He added: “When individuals or companies behave in this manner, we will do everything in our power to protect our natural resources and communities, and to ensure a level playing field for businesses who operate within the law.”
Swansea Council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Mark Thomas, said he welcomed the sentences and the message they would send out.
He said: “Any form of fly-tipping and abuse of land is a blight on our landscape.”
Ruth Mullen, director of environment at Carmarthenshire Council, said there was no excuse for this sort of behaviour, and that the authority would always work with partner agencies like NRW to investigate incidents.
“Fly-tipping is a serious offence with consequences for the environment and local communities,” she said.