A Bramham man was given a 12 month prison sentence at Selby Magistrates Court on May 10 after the Environment Agency found thousands of tyres dumped illegally at Tockwith Airfield and other locations around the area.
Paul Ketteridge, aged 51, of Lyndon Avenue, admitted two waste offences in relation to Tockwith Airfield, and was found guilty after a trial on a charge relating to fly tipping at Goodmanham near Market Weighton.
He also admitted three further waste offences in relation to thousands of tyres dumped at Avenue Road, York and 31 Lyndon Avenue, Bramham.
At the same hearing, Eco Terra Tyres Ltd of Dringthorpe Road, Dringthorpe, also admitted four waste charges relating to tyres at Tockwith airfield, and was fined £400 in total. The magistrates accepted the company had no assets.
Nigel Augustin, prosecuting on behalf of the Environment Agency, told the court that Mr Ketteridge was the director of Eco Terra Tyres Ltd which is registered with the Environment Agency to carry waste.
Environment Agency officers visited Tockwith Airfield in York in February 2010 after receiving complaints about its state, and found around 40,000 stored tyres.
Some tyres were also found inside a lorry trailer and most tyres were in a poor condition. Staff traced the site to Eco Terra Tyres Ltd and Mr Ketteridge who was renting it.
The court heard that the team told Mr Ketteridge that tyres couldn’t be stored on site because it wasn’t licensed by the Environment Agency to do so.
Mr Ketteridge explained that the tyres came from the airfield and he was removing them although when questioned, he accepted that some had been brought on to the site by Eco Terra Tyres Ltd.
Mr Augustin said the Environment Agency visited the site five times between March 26 2010 and April 13 2010 and, on all but one occasion, officers saw tyres being taken from vehicles and thrown on to the site.
A survey in May showed that tyres covered an area of 3,026m2 and as a result Mr Ketteridge was arrested the same day.
In interview, Mr Ketteridge said the site was licensed because tyre shredding had happened there in the past and he maintained that he was moving tyres off site rather than bringing tyres on site.
The defendant agreed to remove the tyres at the rate of seven tonnes a day but subsequent inspections showed little progress and one visit indicated that in fact more tyres had been dumped.
The court heard how on 30 June 2011, Mr Ketteridge, and his company secretary Darren Avey, met an Environment Agency officer to discuss the clearing of the tyres at Tockwith Airfield. It was suggested that the tyres could be taken to 1 Avenue Road, York, to be shredded and baled, but the environment officer explained that an exemption or environmental permit as well as planning permission would be needed if he were to do this.
On 25 November 2011, Environment Agency officers and the Police searched 1 Avenue Road in York and found an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 tyres stored there. The address is located right next to residential houses.
The 12,000 tyres were later removed by the Environment Agency at a cost of £6,625.
In a separate incident, the court heard how Environment Agency officers searched Mr Ketteridge’s home on 28 November 2011 where they found a pile of 150 tyres adjacent to the house, and some worn tyres in the back garden.
In interview the same day, Mr Ketteridge said that the tyres were from cheque paying customers, but he didn’t have the funds to pay for their disposal. He said he had started paying for their disposal and was in the process of clearing the tyres. He said he was trading as ‘Paul Ketteridge’ rather than under ‘Eco-Terra Tyres’.
He acknowledged that he was aware he was breaking the law by storing the tyres at home.
At a separate hearing on 27 March 2012 at Selby Magistrates court, Mr Ketteridge was also found guilty of flytipping tyres into a wood at Goodmanham, Market Weighton.
A member of the public saw a man throwing tyres from a van into the wood and took down the registration number. This was traced back to Mr Ketteridge who claimed he had stopped at the side of the road to stabilise loose objects in the back of his van.
In passing sentence the court said that the seriousness of these matters could not be overstated. They considered the size and scale of your activity, the huge threat to the environment, financial gain and the attempt to cover up what you had done.
The court went on to say: “The seriousness of the offences lead us to the conclusion that only a immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Speaking after the case, environmental crime officer for the Environment Agency Mike Robotham said: “Investigations like this are notoriously difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, the expertise and persistence of the investigating team meant we could gather enough evidence to demonstrate the scale of Mr Ketteridge’s illegal activities.
“We worked very closely with Leeds City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council on this investigation, and it was thanks to a tip-off from a member of the public that we were able to get crucial evidence.
“We want this case to serve as a warning to other operators who may be considering disposing of their waste tyres illegally. We will always do what we can to catch those responsible.”
If anyone spots flytipping in their local area, they should report it to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 807060 or to their local authority.