Exclusive: Director of waste firm opening rubbish tip next to Yorkshire golf academy admitted tax evasion and bribery

A director of a waste management firm intending to reopen a rubbish tip next to a Yorkshire golf academy used by some of the world's best players has previously admitted tax evasion, bribery and falsifying waste returns in court.

The Peter Cowan Golf Academy sign

Information revealed today by The Yorkshire Post has resulted in calls for the Environment Agency to “think again” over the granting of a permit last year for Grange Landfill Ltd to dump more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year at a tip off Droppingwell Lane in Kimberworth, Rotherham.

The permit was granted despite protests from hundreds of local residents concerned about its proximity to the Peter Cowen Golf Academy and football pitches used by Millmoor Juniors FC.

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Grange Landfill Ltd was incorporated in November 2015 and its directors are Martin Hartley Hague and three of his family members.

The Yorkshire Post can today reveal High Court judgments show eight years ago Mr Hague made a series of admissions in the course of evidence relating to a dispute about the ownership of a separate family business.

In a 2009 judgement, His Honour Judge Behrens said Mr Hague and other family members had admitted “to being involved in dishonest tax evasion involving very large sums of money”, when Mr Hague was a director of another company, then called Hague Plant Excavations Ltd.

He said Mr Hague had also “admitted paying bribes” and “admitted obtaining property by deception and other disreputable conduct”.

Hundreds of local residents have protested against the reopening of the Droppingwell tip, highlighting its proximity to Blackburn Primary School and pitches used by Millmoor Juniors FC, as well as the Peter Cowen Golf Academy where 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett was coached. Rotherham Council has also made a complaint about the Environment Agency’s handling of the issue.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “The Environment Agency’s role as an environmental regulator is to ensure that any waste facility in operation will not place the environment or communities at risk of harm.

“We can confirm that we have received correspondence from Rotherham Council in which it expresses its concerns about Grange Landfill Ltd.

“We will address the issues they have raised in due course.”

Mr Cowen, who has also coached the likes of Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington at the range, said the Environment Agency needed to look again at the granting of the permit in light of the court admissions and environmental concerns about the site.

“If it goes ahead, it will virtually finish off this driving range.

“I have invested £1.7m in the range but it will be worth zero,” he said.

Despite repeated efforts by The Yorkshire Post, Mr Hague declined to comment on the admissions he made in the court hearings.