Essex landowner allowed healthcare waste to be dumped on farmland

A landowner who allowed healthcare wastes to be dumped on farmland without an environmental permit is awaiting sentence in the crown court.

The Environment Agency (EA) has reported that a lagoon at Little Tressells Farm, Margaretting, Essex was filled with shredded plastic, fragments of plastic and rubber tubes, syringe casings and cardboard drug packets.

According to Anne-Lise McDonald, prosecuting for the EA, landowner Neil John Spooner claimed he had asked for stony material to be tipped on his land to make a paddock track. He said he was away for part of the time material was being delivered, and claimed not to know that three unnamed men were dumping healthcare waste.

EA officers had visited the farm on 10 January 2012 and saw a large lorry tipping fine material. Spooner was told it was illegal to deposit waste without a permit and had to clear the waste within six weeks.

Three subsequent visits showed no change in the waste on the site, until the final day when a small amount of waste had been cleared, but not enough.

Spooner said he had been quoted up to £500,000 to clear the rubbish and his house had been devalued by £1.5m. He was made bankrupt in January 2013.

He admitted two offences and was sent to Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing on 18 July.


Initial reports, in  Materials Recycling World refer to dumping of “medical wastes” which may not be correct. Of course, the term has no real meaning. The waste  description suggests low grade healthcare waste but certainly not clinical waste. though if the Environment Agency wish to make a name for themselves with an even bigger fine no doubt that will be the description that they will choose. And since the description is of “fine material” it would suggest some prior processing of the waste which included passing through a shredder. It is likely therefore that not one but tow waste companies should be in the frame, including those who had control of the waste before Spooner received it.

But despite that, this waste crime should never have happened and it is credit to whomever discovered the incident, or blew the whistle. Supposedly, waste consignment notes should make this a never event. That is what was promised, when EA introduced a scheme that ‘allowed them to track each and every consignment of waste in the UK. Clearly, the crooks, at least most of them, quickly found a way around that particular barrier and continue to profit from waste-related environmental crime.



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