Fringe Box



Stoney Castle Hits National Press With Claims Of ‘Regulatory  Collapse’

Published on: 28 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 28 Nov, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

The illegal dump at Stoney Castle featured in the national press on Wednesday (November 24) with the headline “Filthy Business: who will stop Britain’s illegal waste-dumping mafia“.

The area, on the edge of Pirbright Common heathland and adjacent to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and a special protection area (SPA), had reportedly been in operation as a waste dump for over 30 years. The first enforcement action was taken by GBC in 1988.

Google Maps view of the controversial dump at Stoney Castle, Pirbright. GBC raided the site in July 2021.

In the Guardian article, the Stoney Castle illegal waste dump is cited with “local campaigners claim that Surrey County Council (SCC) and the Environment Agency (EA) have known the identity of people using this [Stoney Castle] site since 2009, but have failed to take legal action against them”.

The article concludes the “almost total regulatory collapse” is an “inevitable outcome of 40 years of ” cutting red tape”, of slashing the budgets of regulatory agencies, of outsourcing and self-reporting”.

Earlier photo of waste at the Stoney Castle dump.

The Dragon contacted the Environment Agency, SCC and GBC as well as local councillor Keith Witham and The Green Party spokesperson, Mark Bray-Parry.

We asked them to confirm if there was a lack of enforcement on illegal waste dumping in Surrey and what they would want to be changed to ensure waste dumping rules were enforced.

Drums said to be on the Stoney Castle site in Pirbright were suspected of containing highly toxic PCB chemicals. In September 2021, EA said “having assessed the site, including the stream, and the risk posed to the environment by materials onsite, the EA has not carried out any sampling.”

A spokesperson for SCC said: “The ultimate responsibility for the site rests with the landowner and his representatives and the county council is awaiting compliance with its extant 2015 Enforcement Notice.  Recent action has been taken by Guildford Borough Council.  SCC is one of several agencies involved in ongoing activities at this site, and we will continue to liaise with all stakeholders.”

Cllr Keith Witham

Local county and borough councillor, Keith Witham, said: “Both Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council used the full extent of their legal powers to prosecute and stop the dumping at Stoney Castle, Pirbright.  SCC successfully prosecuted Mr Daniel Hill at Guildford Crown Court for allowing the activity at Stoney Castle land, and he was fined, and the also Court awarded a POCA – Proceeds Of Crime Award – against him.

“And then GBC took action under their powers to clear and secure the site of non-waste items. A charge of £257,000 for GBC’s costs has been placed on the land at the land registry, as that’s what the landowner owes, for failing to do what GBC then undertook.

“But councils such as SCC and GBC only have civil powers, through the civil courts; they do not have the power to launch criminal prosecutions. That is where the law needs to be strengthened so that the police can become involved in identifying and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill, the son of the owner of the land at Stoney Castle, maintains he is innocent and said he believed SCC and the EA did know the “main suspect” of the illegal dumping at Stoney Castle.

On the current position with Stoney Castle, Mr Hill said: “We are in discussions with EA about clearing my dad’s site but we can’t agree on how the waste can be recycled. We want to separate the waste on-site which will make it a lot cheaper and therefore affordable. We are happy to pay for this. But the EA want us to clear all the waste to a waste transfer site first and sort it out there but that will cost millions and then makes it impossible.”

The EA, GBC and Mark Bray-Parry had not commented at the time of publication.

See Dragon articles on Stoney Castle here

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