• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Golf club owner convicted for allowing waste to be dumped

Rusper Golf Club

A golf club owner together with two UK companies who dumped almost waste illegally at a golf club, have been convicted. A secretary of the company that owns the club told investigators of the Environmental Agency that she didn’t know the work needed a permit.

The Environmental Agency discovered that the two companies had dumped almost 700 lorry-loads of waste dumped illegally at a golf club close to Gatwick Airport.

The action was deemed by a district judge who issued fines totalling GBO38,000.

Rusper Leisure, the company that owned the golf club, got planning permission to raise part of an embankment on the driving range two metres higher, in order to catch stray golf balls. The company had agreed with Mole Valley district council to use only clean soil.

Investigators from the Environment Agency said that the surface of the bund contained glass, wood, plastic, tarmac, brick, concrete and other material, with similar loads dropped around the course and nearby. These loads were mixed with builders waste.

Investigators discovered that the two companies paid Rusper Leisure GBP100 a load for the tonnes of waste left on and around the greens in the second half of 2018.

No meaningful checks

Jamie Hamilton, the senior environmental crime officer who led the investigation for the Environment Agency, said: “Companies must ensure the Environment Agency authorises any tipping of waste in advance. Cook and Son and Bell and Sons, both established operators, discarded the waste over five months without making any meaningful checks the golf course could accept it.”

When interviewed, Rusper Leisure’s company secretary, Sara Blunden, was said to have told investigators she “didn’t know the work needed a permit from the Environment Agency”, claiming she believed planning permission from Mole Valley “was enough” to bring waste onto the golf course.

Duncan Bell, a director with Bell and Sons, told the Environment Agency he “didn’t check” if an environmental permit was needed for the work when told planning permission was in place for raising the bund, nor is he thought to have checked where his company’s lorries were dumping the waste.

Christopher Cook, of Cook and Son, admitted his drivers left waste on the course and that he’d taken “no further steps” to find out if the site had a permit from the Environment Agency, beyond asking Bell if the site was legal for that purpose.

Lacking detail

Of the associated waste transfer notes, EA has said that many lacked “crucial detail”, such as a description of the waste, where on the course it was placed, and if it was hazardous or not.

District judge Tessa Szagun fined Rusper Leisure GBP2,000 for running a waste operation at the golf club with no environmental permit. Costs were GBP3,000.

For dumping banned waste, Cook and Son was fined GBP24,000, with costs of GBP12,500. Bell and Sons Construction was fined GBP12,000. Costs were GBP8,000. All three were given victim surcharge fees of GBP170.

For not having an environment permit, the Environment Agency charged Rusper Leisure with breaching regulation 12(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. Cook and Son and Bell and Sons Construction were both charged with breaching section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in relation to the dumped waste.

Rusper Golf Club has since closed.

Guy Oldenkotte

Guy Oldenkotte is senior editor of sportsfields.info and has been covering the outdoor sportssurfaces market and industry since 2003

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