Fringe Box



Questions Remain As GBC’s Operation at Stoney Castle Waste Site Continues

Published on: 14 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 14 Jul, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Thirty-six hours after the early morning enforcement action on the Stoney Castle illegal dump in Pirbright, GBC’s immediate plans in taking control of the site were becoming clearer after documents were obtained by The Dragon.

But questions remain over the nature of the council’s operation and what will happen to any toxic waste found on the controversial site.

Access blocked on Monday morning (July 12) at the Stoney Castle early morning raid by GBC. Enforcement officers were said to be still on the site on Wednesday afternoon.

See: GBC Dramatic Early Morning Operation At Stoney Castle To Stop Illegal Dumping.

GBC official statements have been minimal. They say that as it is an “ongoing legal investigation” they are unable to say more.

GBC letter to The Occupier (dated June 16 2021) redacted by The Dragon.

And it is not known for how long the council intends to retain control of the site. Uncorroborated reports have said GBC are bringing in heavy equipment including JCBs as part of their operation.

The site, dubbed by the Ends Report as “Surrey’s largest illegal waste site”, is near Pirbright Common heathland and adjacent to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and a special protection area (SPA).

It has reportedly been in operation for over 30 years. The first enforcement action was taken by GBC in 1988.

A letter from GBC, addressed to “The Occupier”, sent on June 16  does not mention dealing with the waste at the dump, stating: “The works will involve the removal of caravans from the site, the removal of non-waste items being stored on the land and the barn”.

GBC notice, July 12, stating the site is illegally occupied and GBC’s intention to sell or dispose of goods on the land.

When, how or by whom the waste will be removed from the site, is not detailed.

A further notice obtained by The Dragon, dated July 12, announces the site is “occupied illegally”. It gives the three occupiers seven days to either appeal or take their property off the land before GBC sells or disposes of it.

Mark Bray-Parry, Guildford’s Green Party spokesperson, said: “I am pleased GBC has taken action to remove the occupiers. I hope they are now able to secure it to stop any further waste being dumped.”

He added that clearing and decontamination of the land should remain a priority for the safety of Pirbright residents.

Mark Bray-Parry

Mr Bray-Parry has proposed to SCC, GBC and the Environment Agency (EA) the land be compulsorily purchased with the EA bearing 90% of the costs including what could be a very expensive clean up operation if hazardous waste is involved.

Fred Burns, one of the three people evicted on Monday, told The Dragon they were pleased for the site to be cleared of waste but she said she will challenge their removal.

She said: “I got my dogs back this morning (June 14). GBC have said they will not give me any extra time on removing my property. I have around 32 transit vans used as film props and a 7.5t tow truck. It is impossible to do it in seven days”

“I have spoken to my solicitor and we intend to make an application to challenge what GBC are doing.” The challenge may halt any action GBC are planning.

An anonymous group calling themselves “Surrey Illegal Waste”, said: “Unfortunately the recent action taken by GBC to remove occupiers and mobile homes, albeit a step forward, really does not solve the health impacts” on local residents.

Cllr Keith Witham

County and borough councillor, Keith Witham (Con, Worplesdon/Pirbright), made a statement to a SCC meeting on July 13 commending the work of SCC waste officers “for their diligence and perseverance” in trying to control the waste and burning which had been affecting Pirbright residents “for too long”.

He said the responsibility rests with the landlord who is abroad but whose son, who has power of attorney, was convicted in 2018 and fined £2,500 with a Proceeds Of Crime Award given for approx £27,000.

Continuing, Cllr Witham said that at the moment, GBC was “taking the lead in enforcement, in close liaison with both SCC and the EA [Environment Agency]” and that if taxpayers money was involved, he would press for assurances that “any funding to acquire the land must not in any way be allowed to financially benefit the owner(s)” of the land.

The Dragon has asked GBC to clarify the objectives of their current enforcement action and to confirm whether any decontamination work was being carried out.

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