A rogue waste management company operator who allowed litter to blow across a country park has been ordered to do litter picking by a judge.
Gary Maw failed to process waste properly at two of his units on the Hetton Lyons industrial estate, Hetton, despite numerous visits from enforcement officers, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Syan Venton said complaints were received from members of the public about litter and dust blowing across the nearby Hetton Lyons Country Park.
"On one visit an Environment Agency inspector saw a pile of mixed waste about six to eight metres high stored outside," Mr Venton added. "Such waste must be stored inside to prevent it being blown about, and also to prevent it getting wet, which speeds decomposition."
Maw, 54, of Coalford Lane Farm, Pittington, County Durham, who ran North East Products Ltd and Green Energy Products Ltd from the Hetton site, admitted four charges of breaching a waste management permit, and one charge of non-compliance with an enforcement notice, all between 2010 and 2013.
Richard Wright QC, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Maw fully intends to clear the site, and has made some progress with that at some cost to himself.
"He has avoided bankruptcy, but needs to raise more money to fund the rest of the clearing operation.
"The companies are effectively closed, but he does have an income of about £1,100 a month from the family livery business."
Judge Sean Morris fined Maw £5,000, and ordered him to do 130 hours of community work.
The judge told him: "There are better candidates than you for prison.
"But I am going to email the Probation Service to request your community work is done by litter picking.
"I hope you will be out in your green high-vis jacket picking litter, so you understand what an infernal problem it is."