A man whose lorry was used to dump waste at a business park in Kent has been sent to prison.
James Atkins, from Essex, was given a 16-month sentence after an operation by the Environment Agency.
The 29-year-old was found guilty of owning or having control of a lorry used to dump brick rubble, soils and plastic under the cover of darkness at Swan Business Park in Dartford in February 2017.
Investigators checked CCTV footage that showed a red DAF tipper truck registered to Atkins being driven onto the site at almost midnight when the waste was unloaded.
Firms at the business park had to pay out more than £3,000 to have the waste removed.
Essex Police seized the lorry after it was found abandoned in Purfleet a week after the incident. Atkins produced a key and documents to prove he was the registered owner.
Environmental crime officers then interviewed Atkins under caution, but he answered ‘no comment’ to every question.
Lesley Robertson, who led the Environment Agency’s investigation ending with Atkins’ imprisonment, said:
We take illegal waste activity very seriously, and will not hesitate to disrupt criminal behaviour and prosecute those responsible.
Atkins allowed his vehicle to be used to dump waste in Dartford. He operated at a commercial advantage, undermining legitimate business with little or no regard for the environment – and firms where the waste was dumped outside their premises had to pay for the clean-up.
His custodial sentence demonstrates how seriously the court also considered this case to be.
Sitting at Chelmsford crown court on 25 January, judge Mary Loram KC said Atkins was responsible for the ‘planned and cynical dumping of waste’, which she described as ‘sophisticated’.
The Environment Agency told the court Atkins’ activities allowed him to avoid the fees and taxes associated with lawful disposal, and that he ‘undermined legal competitors’ and ’caused significant interference with the legitimate activities of industrial estate users and business owners’.
Atkins, of Copperfield, in Chigwell, was handed 14 months in prison for the waste offences, and another month each for failing to give himself up at an earlier court hearing, and being subject to a suspended sentence for driving whilst disqualified when the waste was dumped at Dartford.
He was also ordered to pay £6,000 in costs, having been convicted in his absence at the same court last October.
Atkins was charged with one count of breaching section 33 (5) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for having control of a vehicle from which controlled waste is deposited on unlicensed land, and one count of section 34 (1) and (6) of the same act for handling, controlling and transferring controlled waste without taking reasonable measures.
Anyone with suspicions of waste crime can call the Environment Agency’s incident hotline 0800 807060, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.