Mountain of filth – 300-tonne pile of rubbish built up over 10 months

WHAT A MESS: The rubbish left piling up.
WHAT A MESS: The rubbish left piling up.
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A FAMILY row led a man to walk away from his waste business, leaving hundreds of tonnes of rotting rubbish behind.

ohn Croft allowed the filth to pile up for nearly 10 months at his waste facility on a Houghton industrial estate.

Then he abandoned the 300 tonne pile of rubbish, sparking complaints from angry neighbours of the Philadelphia Complex Industrial Estate.

Croft, 51, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Environmental Permitting Regulations when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

He admitted he had “knowingly permitted the operation of a regulated facility, namely by accepting mixed and hazardous waste, otherwise than under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit”.

Magistrates heard that officers from the agency carried out a spot check at the site, after receiving complaints from Sunderland City Council and people living nearby. Attempts to contact Croft, from New Silksworth, failed, and he was eventually arrested by police.

Environment Agency prosecutor Syan Ventom said the offence took place between February and November 2011, and it eventually cost owner Homedale Limited about £25,000 to clear the site.

Gerry Armstrong, defending, said problems began when the business began taking in more rubbish than it could handle.

He said: “They were asked by the site landlord to move from unit five to unit six. The first mistake was that you might have a licence for number five, but you don’t have a licence for number six.”

Mr Croft’s brother-in-law offered to deal with changing the licence, but then decided to leave the business, Mr Armstrong added.

“He had people coming in and leaving their waste and he was not sure what to do,” he said.

“He should have rang the Environment Agency and shouted ‘mayday’, but he did not.

“He did not want to bring trouble to his sister, as he was trying to help her out.

“He did try to get other people in the waste business involved, but it was not the profitable kind of waste for them.”

Croft’s bad luck continued, after he hired a machine to help deal with the mountain of rubbish.

But it broke down, the owner refused to fix it and hit Croft with “exorbitant” interest rates, Mr Armstrong said and Croft “just walked away.”

Croft, who is battling kidney problems, is now working part-time for the Port of Sunderland.

Chairman Chris Hutchinson ordered Croft, of Lilac Avenue, to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 towards court costs.