'Pig-headed' skip hire operator ran unauthorised waste site at Yorkshire farm

A 63-year-old skip hire operator has been hit with a costs bill of £11,000 after he ran an unauthorised waste site on a farm in Yorkshire.

Robert Deacon was prosecuted by the Environment Agency over his activities at Old Wood Farm in High Eldwick near Bingley, and on Tuesday (Jul 9) a judge at Bradford Crown Court ordered him to do 200 hours unpaid work as part of a one-year community order.

Recorder Andrew Dallas said Deacon had been prosecuted as “an absolute last resort” by the Agency and had ended up at court because he was “too pig-headed”.

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“They gave you chance after chance to sort this out with something short of a court appearance and you failed to take it,” the judge told Deacon.

Bradford Crown CourtBradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

“You compounded the cost by electing trial before pleading guilty. You have been brought here simply because you were too pig-headed to accept the reality of the situation.”

Recorder Dallas said Deacon was someone who reacted negatively to authority, but accepted he was a hardworking man.

“But you are stubborn,” the judge said. “You will not take hints. You will not take orders and you will not take anything it would seem to deflect you from continuing to do what you thought you should be able to do in a way which saved you from having to spend a lot of money on compliance.”

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Recorder Dallas said people did not expect to have unlicensed and illegal operations going on in their countryside and Deacon had “cocked a snook” at the authorities for years.

Deacon admitted two charges of operating a regulated waste operation otherwise than in accordance with an environmental permit covering periods between 2018 and 2021 and June 2023 and April 2024.

The judge accepted that Deacon had not been funding a lavish lifestyle through his business and said if he had been he would have been looking at a prison sentence for him.

The court heard Deacon had described himself as “the little man against the Environment Agency” and claimed the state should not be able to tell him how to run his business.

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Deacon’s barrister said his client had now decided to cease working in the skip hire and waste business and was now running a kitchen fitting/joinery operation.

The court heard that most of the skips and waste material had now been removed, but the judge imposed a “remedial order” which means any remaining items must be cleared from the site by midnight on September 8 this year.

If that order is not complied with Deacon could face a prison sentence of up to two years under the Contempt of Court Act. The prosecution had sought costs totalling nearly £17,000, but after hearing details about Deacon’s financial situation Recorder Dallas ordered him to pay £11,000 towards the costs of the prosecution within the next 11 months.