Convicted Cotswolds Waste Offender Wanted

A warrant is out for the arrest of a waste offender who was convicted in his absence after failing to appear at court.

David Lee, also known as David Ham, 46, formerly of North Four Shires Stone Farm, London Road, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, was tried in his absence at Oxford magistrates’ court last week.

The court heard that Lee had been living in a caravan on a farm near Moreton-in-Marsh and operating a commercial skip business from this location.

Activities on the site included depositing skips full of waste; sorting, storing and burning waste; and removing waste for onward disposal. All without the relevant environmental permit.

A red car, empty skips and earth dominate the photo

Investigators found a mass of illegal waste at Lee’s Cotswolds farm

The site is close to two designated nature conservation areas. Less than a mile from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and less than half a mile from the Site of Special Scientific Interest at Wolford Wood.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:

We are pleased to secure this conviction for running an illegal unpermitted waste operation. Waste crime can have a serious environmental impact which puts communities at risk, and undermines legitimate businesses.

If you see or suspect waste crime is being committed, we urge you to report it immediately to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Environment Agency officers visited the site in May 2021, following up reports of burning waste, and to check compliance with permit exemptions that had recently been registered. They observed vehicles and machinery consistent with the running of a skip hire business; several empty and full skips; and piles of mixed waste, including household, construction and demolition waste, furniture, metal, wood and soil. Two piles of waste were still smouldering from recent fires.

Outbuildings, a white van and construction waste can be seen

Lee broke environmental law through sorting, storing and burning waste

Lee was told on multiple occasions that all waste activity must stop immediately and that the site should be cleared. Environment Agency officers made further visits to check on progress, and it became apparent that the defendant was continuing to operate an unpermitted waste transfer site. Burning of waste also continued, which on more than one occasion resulted in the fire service attending.

A huge mountain of waste is seen in front of empty skips

Lee was convicted of waste crime, but he didn’t attend court. A warrant is now out for his arrest.

In November 2021, the Environment Agency served a notice compelling Lee to clear the waste from the site, but he did not comply, and his activity continued. With all other avenues exhausted, the Environment Agency took Lee to court, resulting in last week’s conviction. There is now a warrant out for Lee’s arrest with no bail.

  • The case was heard on Monday 13 March 2023. The Environment Agency brought the prosecution against David Lee, born 28 December 1976, under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for:
    • operating a waste facility without a permit
    • failing to comply with a notice to remove the waste
    • knowingly allowing permit controlled waste to be submitted, to any listed operation namely, burning
  • The site of the illegal waste activities is located approximately 1.7 kilometres to the east of Moreton-in-Marsh and immediately adjacent to the A44 which is the main connection between Chipping Norton and Moreton-in-Marsh and the route from Oxford to Worcester. The site is located approximately 1.2km from the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural beauty and just 0.7km from the Wolford Wood and Old Covert Site of Special Scientific Interest.

  • An environmental permit requires infrastructure to control the risk of pollution from the permitted activities, and requires the site operator to manage waste operation activities in accordance with a written management plan, a fire-prevention plan and an odour management plan.

  • The likely costs avoided by the defendant by not obtaining an environmental permit to operate a waste transfer station:
    • Application fee for a bespoke household commercial and industrial waste transfer permit: £9,176
    • One-off first year operation fee: £672
    • Annual subsistence fee for the period September 2020 to March 2022: £4,524
    • Operator Competence Scheme and environmental permitting operators certificate: £3,000
    • Additional costs arising from putting required plans and infrastructure in place
  • While there was no environmental permit, exemptions were registered for the site in April 2021. These were:
    • U1 exemption, use of waste in construction, 22 April 2021 to 21 April 2024
    • D7 exemption, burning waste in the open, starting 21 April 2021 and revoked by the Environment Agency on 6 August 2021
    • T6 exemption, treating waste wood and plant matter by chipping, shredding, cutting or pulverising, 3 November 2021 to 2 November 2024

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