Bugle family told to pay half a million pounds for illegal waste dumping
EIGHT members of the same extended Bugle family will have to pay nearly half a million pounds for their parts in running an illegal waste dumping operation.
At Truro Crown Court on Monday, members of the family, who had previously admitted running a complex series of illegal waste operations at a former Bugle smallholding called Rocks Farm, were ordered to pay a total of £457,209 in fines, prosecution costs and confiscation orders, made under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Mother Shirley Buckland appeared alongside her sons Leeroy, Jason, Shane and Karl Buckland, her daughter-in-law Roseanne and her son-in-law James Crocker and his brother Paul.
Joanna Martin, for the prosecution, said the family was a large one and that many of the members lived in and around Bugle.
Ms Martin said the land at Rocks Farm was owned by Shirley and her husband Albert Buckland, who bought it in 2003. Between 2003 and 2011 several thousand tonnes of material was dumped on land at the site after it was turned into an illegal waste transfer station and landfill. Waste was also burnt, sorted and recycled, in what Ms Martin described as waste transfer activity.
Ms Martin showed the court aerial photos taken in 1999 and 2009 that revealed an increase in the amount of waste at the site and said that at least 4,500 cubic metres of material had been landfilled there.
She said: "What was happening at Rocks Farm in very general terms was the avoidance of the landfill tax and the cost of proper disposal of landfill and the avoidance of the cost of taking waste to a waste transfer station."
Family members ran a number of businesses from the site.
The main one was A1 Skips, which was run by Karl Buckland for five months before being taken over by Leeroy Buckland in 2007. There was also PC Skips run by Paul and James Crocker, and SB Gardeners run by Shane Buckland.
Skips were used to bring waste, including soil, wood and metal for recycling or disposal by landfill on the former smallholding.
Ms Martin said: "One witness was to say to police that he had always used A1 SKips because they were cheap but from July 2011 when he phoned A1 Skips, their price had doubled – that clearly is an indication of the savings made."
The land at Rocks Farm formed part of the Criggan Moor County Wildlife Site and the Bucklands had no planning permission or necessary permits from the Environment Agency.
Ms Martin said there were numerous meetings between the family and the Environment Agency but that warnings given were ignored.
On June 30, 2011, police raided the site in a joint operation with the Environment Agency.
The family also had around 50 caravans on the site, which are let out and which they receive housing benefit for.
Shirley Buckland pleaded guilty to causing a ground water activity in relation to the site, which the court heard did not have a suitable sewage system.
It has taken around two and a half years for the case to progress through the courts and while some defendants pleaded guilty to their parts in the operation at an early stage, Shirley and Jason Buckland did not plead guilty until the third or fourth day of what was estimated to be an eight to ten-week trial last year.
Two other defendants – Lindsay and Albert Buckland – were found not guilty earlier in the proceedings after the prosecution offered no evidence against them.
Sentencing the eight, Judge John Neligan said the Environment Agency must protect the public from the ugliness of unlicensed and unregulated tips.