Boss faces jail over illegal eyesore waste mountain
The man behind a mountain of rubble and timber that brought misery to people living nearby has been warned he faces jail.
Up to 13,000 tonnes of wood and construction waste was dumped at the illegal tip in Middlemore Lane, Aldridge, that allegedly cost £200,000 to clear, a judge heard.
Steven Morgan, who is of previous good character and ran the site under the name Aldridge Aggregates and Recycling, has admitted operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit between April 6 and August 29 2015.
The 51-year-old discharged bankrupt from Whetstone Lane, Aldridge, is being prosecuted by the Environmental Agency which claims the amount of waste dumped there soared from several hundred tonnes to almost 13,000 tonnes in just over a month, Wolverhampton Crown court was told.
But the defendant, who allegedly refused to act on advice from officials, argues that the true figure was no more that 3,900 tonnes of wood and construction waste.
Recorder Ben Mills maintained that photographs of the site might be said to 'show a large scale waste operation being conducted with flagrant disregard to the law.'
Mr Nicholas Ostrowski, defending, said Morgan became bankrupt last year but was discharged two months ago although a trustee in bankruptcy still had control over the defendant's finances.
The lawyer added: "He has no income at the moment. His wife pays the mortgage and bills."
There is currently no specific evidence as to how much the businessman earned from the illegal tip, the court heard, and sentencing was adjourned to allow the defence more time to prepare their case.
Recorder Mills granted the application and said: "This environmental offence is so serious it passes the custodial threshold and the defendant must be given a fair opportunity to present his case. He is facing the possibility of an immediate custodial sentence.
"The defence do not accept the £200,000 figure suggested by the prosecution (for the clean up cost) but do not offer an alternative. Even if it was half that figure it would still come under the heading of significant cost."
He ordered Morgan to prepare a statement of assets and details of any material, medical or financial, on which he intends to rely by January 19.
The case was adjourned to April next year.
The defendant, who was granted unconditional bail, may also have to pay compensation to residents and businesses affected by his behaviour, the court was told.
Aldridge Aggregates was ordered to shut down and clear the site by November 4 2015 but the waste was not removed until October last year.
Local councillor John Rochelle recalled: "It was 15 feet high and a dreadful eyesore. There was no planning approval and it miraculously appeared in a really short space of time. The local residents were very upset and complained about the dust."
Walsall Council's head of planning and building control David Elsworthy said during the battle to close the illegal dump: "This is considered to be significantly detrimental to the amenities of the surrounding area, notably in terms of dust generation and noise."
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