Warning after farmer receives suspended jail sentence for burning waste

PUBLISHED: 10:32 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:06 02 May 2019

Waste being illegally burned at the farm  Picture: EA

Waste being illegally burned at the farm Picture: EA


Burning waste to avoid paying to dispose of it pollutes the atmosphere and releases climate-changing chemicals, warns the government's environmental watchdog.

Items burned included fridges and freezers  Picture: EAItems burned included fridges and freezers Picture: EA

It comes after a court heard an East Anglian farmer collected and burned hazardous waste including fridges, freeezers and dead animals.

Brian Rutterford of Undley, Lakenheath, admitted operating an unpermitted site at Blackdyke Farm in Hockwold-cum-Wilton, near Brandon and illegally depositing and burning waste.

Environment Agency prosecutor Sarah Dunne told King's Lynn magistrates that despite warnings from officers in November 2017 and at least three follow-up visits and emails, Rutterford, 71, continued his illegal activities.

He allowed other people to take waste to his farm to burn and told his employees to bring waste from his own rental properties to burn there.

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Mrs Dunne said in November 2017 officers found a fire burning with about five skip loads of waste. Despite being told by Rutterford that it was from his farm, it was clear that it was not. It included kitchen unit doors as well as plastic, rubber and metal items.

“During the visit a flatbed trailer loaded with a mattress and wooden furniture was seen driving onto the site. It turned and left when the driver saw the environment officers,” Mrs Dunne said.

Most businesses that use, treat, recover, store or dispose of waste need an environmental permit. Rutterford had no permit. He was told to stop burning waste and to clear the site within 90 days.

When officers returned to carry out further inspections, they found more waste had been deposited including rotting animal carcasses and fridges and freezers which, when burned, release climate-changing chemicals.

Rutterford was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years on condition that he remains of good behaviour. He was also ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totalling £18,051.50.

After the hearing on Wednesday, May 1, environment officer Naomi Daniel said: “Burning waste saved the cost of legal disposal and put the environment at real risk. Burning fridges and freezers releases climate-changing chemicals and pollutes the atmosphere.”

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