Environmentally unfriendly farmer faces £1.8 million bill

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An elderly farmer who let people dump tons of waste on this land now faces a £1.8 million bill from environmental crime prosecutors.

David Graham (69) was being accused of everything short of starting the First World War, his solicitor Gordon Addison said at Falkirk Sheriff Court today.

The farmer pled guilty in October to running an illegal tip on his land at Doghill, near Denny.

Inspectors from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) checked the site between June 2011 and October 2013 and found more than 400 tonnes of construction waste, household waste, biodegradable waste and commercial waste on permeable fields.

The rubbish dumped included “red blaes” colliery spoil, bricks, concrete, stones, chippings, metal, tar, turf, road planings, tarmac, plastics, treated wood, Perspex windows, tree branches, green waste, a wooden pallet and a demolished garden shed.

Graham, of Denovan Mains farm, Dunipace, admitted four charges under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act – keeping controlled waste without a licence, failing to secure the site to prevent repeated, regular and foreseeable fly-tipping, permitting fly-tipping and sorting and burying waste without a licence.

The court heard Graham should have held a licence for waste disposal activities, and to do so would have meant building and operating a proper landfill site at an estimated cost of £1.8 million.

Crown Office prosecutors are now seeking to force him to pay that sum under the Proceeds of Crime Act on the basis he benefited by that amount as a result of not building a proper site.

Defence solicitor Mr Addison argued Graham’s profits, if any, amounted to nowhere near £1.8 million.

The Proceeds of Crime Act was passed to allow prosecutors to recover assets from criminals such as drug dealers, but it can also be used to pursue business owners who profit by dodging environmental legislation.

Mr Addison said: “The Crown are not actually blaming Mr Graham for the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, but according to them everything else seems to be his fault.”

He said his client, who appeared in the dock on crutches, was now a sick, elderly man, recently hospitalised.

Sheriff Derek Livingstone continued the case until January 19 for a pre-proof hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Sentence on Graham for the four charges was deferred to await the outcome.