A CROOK who flouted environment laws by running an illegal scrap yard on land next to the river Aire in Knottingley has been jailed.
Police and Environment Agency officers also discovered a stolen lorry and farming machinery during raids on Old Maggot Farm, Stocking Lane, Knottingley, a court heard.
Russell Barratt, 50, was jailed for two years and three months last Thursday after pleading guilty to operating a waste facility without a licence, three offences of handling stolen goods and possession of criminal property.
Leeds Crown Court heard the two acre site, 200m from the river, resembled a “very large poorly kept scrap yard.”
Old cars, HGVs and vehicle parts littered the site, with sludge, diesel and oil contaminating the ground.
The court heard the site was not properly sealed to prevent leaks from contaminating the soil and there was no proper drainage in place.
Work to make the site safer, plus the relevant permit to operate the site, would have cost Barratt £30,000.
Judge Penelope Belcher told Barratt that he would have been facing a longer sentence if there was evidence that the pollution had spread to the river.
She told Barratt he had committed a “reckless breach of the law, ” adding: “You do not have, and at no time have you had, the financial wherewithal to pay for that permit or the infrastructure to manage or run that sire on a lawful basis.”
Officers also carried out raids at the site in May and July last year to find huge fires on the site. The air was thick with acrid smoke from burning tyres and other harmful materials. Firefighters were called to the site on two occasions.
Police also discovered a stolen lorry and trailer and a stolen tractor and potato harvester on the site.
The possession of criminal property offence relates to £1,979 in cash found at in his home on Stocking Lane. The court heard Barratt had previously served a prison sentence for handling stolen goods.
Michael Griffith, the Environment Agency’s officer in charge of the investigation, said: “We take waste crime very seriously and will do all we can to prosecute those responsible for damaging the environment.
“We’ll continue to work with the police and other agencies to make sure that people don’t profit from waste crime.”