23 January 2020 by James Langley

Woman jailed for family-run illegal waste site

A woman from Kent whose family ran an illegal waste storage and processing business at their farm near Faversham has been jailed for 30 weeks.

An Environment Agency statement explained that Lucy Mete, 26, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court by Judge Martin Huseyin, for her part in an operation which saw “135 lorry loads of soil and builders’ waste dumped and treated at Thirwell Farm in Drove Lane, Hernhill, between 2014 and 2016”.

Thirwell Farm did not have the necessary environmental permit to store and treat soil and builders’ waste

This work required an environmental permit, which the site, run by Mete, her father James and her sister Billie, did not have.

Alan Cansdale, environment manager for the Environment Agency in Kent, said: “This was a deliberate breach of the law. James, Lucy and Billie Mete all knew their actions amounted to a criminal offence, but still allowed waste to be dumped, kept and treated at Thirwell Farm for a number of years with no permit from the Environment Agency.

“The Metes’ illegal activity affected the public’s enjoyment of the area, as a footpath ran through the site.”

Last July Billie Mete was sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for two years. She was also given a 28-day jail term for breaching the terms of her bail by not attending court for sentence in March but walked free having already served more than half this amount.

James Mete remains at large and a warrant remains in force for his arrest for failing to attend court for sentencing.

Builders’ waste

The Agency says its officers and Kent Police raided Thirwell Farm in April 2015 following several reports of waste being tipped at the site.

“This was a deliberate breach of the law”

Alan Cansdale, Environment Agency

Its officers are said to have found many large piles of waste soils and rubble and machinery for processing it.

During the visit, officers turned back a lorry that had arrived to tip waste.

At the original trial in March 2019, the Agency says the court heard the volume of materials on the site had increased by over 40,000 cubic metres between January 2011 and September 2015. This equates to roughly 53,000 tonnes of material.

Both the lorry driver who was turned away and the owner of a building supplies firm gave statements to the Agency, which claims it was told James Mete was the main contact at the farm.

Sentencing

At the hearing in January 2020, the court heard Lucy Mete owned part of Thirwell Farm and allowed her father to use the farm to deposit and treat the materials against the law.

She was given a 26-week custodial sentence for one count of breaching Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) 2010 regulation 12 and 38(1)b EPR 2010.

For failing to appear at court for sentencing, she received four weeks’ custodial sentence, which was to be served consecutively with the 26-week sentence for a total of 30 weeks.

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