A man has been ordered to carry out 160 hours community service in relation to an incident in which barrels of a “paint-like” substance were dumped, blocking a country lane above Burnley.
Preston Crown Court heard that eight 45-gallon drums were fly-tipped in Mill Hill Lane, Hapton, leaving an estimated £43,000 clean-up and repair bill and killing more than 25 fish in a nearby stream.
David Lee Gordon (also known as David Lee Walsh), 28, of East Crescent, Accrington, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to the unauthorised disposal of waste.
He told the court that he had lent the van to another person and was not involved in the flytipping incident.
Councillor Cosima Towneley, the council’s executive member for community and environmental services, said: “This successful prosecution is the result of a lot of hard work by officers from a number of different agencies.
“This man’s irresponsible and selfish actions led to the contamination of our countryside, killed wildlife and polluted a stream, as well as leaving a large clean-up bill. I’m delighted that he was caught and prosecuted and with a community service sentence and the loss of his vehicle he has had to face the consequences of his actions.
“It sends out a clear message to anyone who mindlessly fly-tips in our borough that we will investigate and if we catch those responsible, they will have to pay for their actions.”
The prosecution was brought by Burnley Council following an investigation which also involved Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency and United Utilities.
Lee Preston, Team Leader for the Cumbria & Lancashire Enforcement Team at the Environment Agency, said: “We are pleased with the result of this prosecution in which both the environment and wildlife were harmed.
“The successful prosecution sends a clear message that waste crime will not be tolerated and we will take action, as in this case, to pursue and prosecute offenders.
“With successful partnership working, we have brought this case to justice.
“The Environment Agency will continue to work tirelessly to tackle environmental crime which can have devastating effects on the environment, put communities at risk and undermines legitimate business.
“As ever, we urge the public to report any instances of waste crime by calling our 24/7 incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60, or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
The court was told that a driver was in the area on 9th October 2018 when he saw a Ford Transit tipper van. As the driver made his way towards Hapton he spotted a number of barrels dumped on the road blocking his path. The contents of the barrels were running onto the road and downhill towards a nearby ford. The court heard a “paint-like” substance was pouring from the barrels and there was a very strong cellulose smell coming from them.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was called to the scene to help in the clean-up operation and an investigation was launched by the Environment Agency.
One of its officers visited the area and saw around 25 dead fish in a nearby stream. Over the following days he re-visited the site and saw further evidence of more fish being killed.
CCTV cameras in the area were checked and footage showed a Ford Transit tipper van driving along Mill Hill Lane with the barrels loaded in the back. A few minutes later another image showed a Ford Transit tipper van “of the same physical appearance” with no cargo in its rear.
A check on the vehicle found it was registered to David Walsh. Council and Environment Agency officers visited his home address and found the same Ford Transit tipper van that was initially spotted at the scene of the fly-tipping parked outside.
The defendant was arrested by the police, on suspicion of an offence contrary to the 1990 Environmental Protection Act, and he confirmed the van was his.
Pollution incidents can cause distress to local communities, reduce water quality and spoil ecosystems. Anyone who notices pollution to land or water is urged to call the Environment Agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60.