Llanelli man given suspended sentence for waste offences

pile of dumped tyres

A Llanelli man has been given a suspended prison sentence after he admitted to running an illegal waste operation on rented farm land near Bynea, in a prosecution bought by Natural Resources Wales.

Stephen Billings of Mor Awel, Llanelli, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, reduced to 10 months in recognition of his guilty plea,  at Swansea Crown Court. The sentence was suspended for 12 months.

Mr Billings admitted that between 2019 and 2021 he imported significant amounts of waste comprised of more than 1,000 tonnes of plastics, fridges and general domestic and construction waste as well as more than 1,000 tyres  to land he was renting at Ffos Fach Farm, Bynea.

He also admitted keeping, treating and disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

The waste was regularly burned on the site, authorities received 28 reports of burning in 2019 alone, and fires could regularly be seen from as far as three miles away.

These fires had a significant impact on air quality to nearby homes and businesses where the smell of burning chemicals and plastics left people feeling sick, and also seriously affected the local environment.

NRW officers made numerous visits to Ffos Fach farm providing Mr Billings with advice and guidance on bringing the site into compliance, but despite these visits he continued his illegal activities until 2021 when he left the site, still covered in waste.

An Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) S59 Notice was served on Mr Billings in April 2023 to remove the waste from site by 31 May 2023. 

Mr Billings did not remove any of the waste from site and, as a result Mr Billings was prosecuted by NRW for all offences he had committed on site.

Mr Billings’ activities posed a significant risk to the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Burry Inlet and Loughor Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which are adjacent to Ffos Fach Farm.

These are both protected areas of ecological and environmental significance that support a wide range of marine habitats and wildlife, some of which are unique in Wales.

The risk posed by stockpiling and burning the waste on site posed a significant risk to these protected sites.

The effect of Mr Billing’s illegal waste activities also had a significant impact to other bona fide licensed waste operators in the area,

By operating without any permits or licenses it is estimated that the costs avoided by Mr Billings in running his illegal waste operation was at least £83,000.

In addition to his suspended sentence, Mr Billings was also ordered to undertake 28 days rehabilitation along with 150 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs at £50 per month.

Huwel Manley, Head of Operations for South West Wales, said:

“Illegal waste operations impact the people, environment, public health and economy of Wales. They can pollute water, harm wildlife, put people’s health at risk and undermine legitimate businesses and put pressure on already overstretched resources of regulators and enforcement bodies.
“We hope that this result will send a clear message to illegal waste operators that their actions are not only harmful but also criminal and that those who engage in illegal activities with no thought to the consequences of their actions will be investigated and prosecuted by NRW.”