The illegally dumped tyres are counted by the Environment Agency. Photograph: Environment Agency
A man has been jailed for 15 months for illegally dumping more than 1m tyres across England, a figure believed to be a record for one individual.
Over the course of a year, Carl David Steele dumped tyres at remote locations in Essex, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Worcestershire and Lincolnshire, Lincoln crown court heard on Monday.
Environment Agency officers initially found 3,000 tyres at a Lincolnshire site – later rising to 400,000 as investigations continued – which Steele had illegally dumped between October 2009 and January 2011 to avoid disposal costs at official waste sites. Four other sites with a total of 800,000 dumped tyres were found later.
The Steele case is significantly bigger than the last major conviction for tyre dumping. In 2009, 175,000 tyres and 290 tonnes of tyre wire were dumped by three people across England and Wales. The clean-up costs for the site owners in that case were up to £122,000, suggesting the bill for this case could be more than half a million pounds. Landowners are having to clear up at their own expense.
Around 55m waste tyres are legally disposed of annually, according to estimates from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Cost varies across the country, but on average, it costs 80p to legally dispose of a tyre. Flytippers illegally dumping tyres can face five years in prison, unlimited fines and confiscation of profits.
Mat Crocker, head of waste and illegals at the Environment Agency, said: "Huge tyre dumps are not only an eyesore, but also present a serious risk to the environment and human health. Stockpiles are a significant fire risk, as they can burn for several years, releasing dangerous gases such as hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen cyanide and sulphur dioxide. The Environment Agency has specialist crime teams to target serious, organised waste criminals, and make sure that illegal operations such as these are shut down. We also seek to confiscate the profits of waste crime, making it clear that waste crime does not pay."
A hearing next year will decide whether proceeds from Steele's crimes should be confiscated. A fine could also arise from the hearing.
The agency said it was focusing on tyres as part of its ongoing crackdown on illegal waste, with nine national tyre dumping investigations currently running.
by Adam Vaughan taken from http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/08/man-jailed-tyre-dump