Suspended jail term for fly-tipping forestry expert

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Suspended jail term for fly-tipping forestry expert

An expert in woodland management has been handed a suspended jail sentence for illegally fly-tipping waste 'on an industrial scale' on protected woodland in Rother.

Timothy Saunders, who ran his own company and was a part-time lecturer in forestry, woodland management and coppicing, dumped waste including asbestos on land at Barnets Hill, Peasmarsh, near Rye.

An estimated 4,000 tonnes was found deposited on the land, which falls in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including rubble, tyres, sheet metal, barbed wire, radiators, fridges and microwave ovens.

The 44-year-old initially denied all but one of four breaches of the Environmental Protection Act, but four days into a trial at Hove Crown Court, changed his plea and admitted all charges.

He had intended to claim he was acting as a 'Good Samaritan' by disposing of waste left by others, but no evidence could be found to back-up his assertion he had reported fly-tipping to the authorities.

Saunders, of Market Street, Rye, was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, handed a community order with a requirement to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Cllr Ian Hollidge, Rother District Council cabinet member for environment, said: "This is an appalling case made all the more shocking by the fact the defendant was an expert in woodland management.

"Saunders abused the trust placed in him by the landowner to dump huge quantities of waste on an industrial scale, and to allow others to do the same, for his own personal gain.

"He has caused serious and lasting environmental damage to an area of protected woodland and until midway through a trial held at public expense failed to admit his guilt in the face of overwhelming evidence.

"This sentencing should send out a clear message that we will not tolerate fly-tipping and will continue to pursue offenders using all the powers available to us."

The court heard Saunders, formerly director of Rother Forestry Ltd, had initially been given access to the land by the landowner in 2009 to carry out minor maintenance to improve the biodiversity of the woodland, but had continued to access the site.

Following a tip-off from a member of the public, officers from Rother District Council carried out a surveillance operation, followed by interviews with Saunders and enquiries with those from whom he took money to dump or allow them to dump waste.

He admitted one count of depositing controlled waste, two counts of causing or permitting controlled waste to be deposited and one count of treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste. The offences took place between August 1 2009 and May 1 2015.

He was convicted and sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday, October 5 2018.

Anyone who is aware of incidents of fly-tipping in Rother is asked to report it to Rother District Council by calling 01424 787000 or online at www.rother.gov.uk

Published on Tuesday, October 9 2018

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