£3,600 fine was given to a landowner of an illegal scrap metal operation
According to DEFRA statement, a Hampshire landowner who ran an illegal scrap metal dealership on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), protected for its value to wildlife, was fined £3,600 on the 18th December at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to conducting unauthorised operations likely to damage the site.
As well as receiving the fine, Christopher Ball, trading as C Ball and Sons, was also ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.
Mr Ball, who bought a meadow on the Odiham Common with Bagwell Green and Shaw SSSI in 2014, was prosecuted by Natural England after failing to notify them of his plans to undertake activity that is restricted on the sensitive wildlife-rich site. Site inspections revealed that vehicles, vehicle parts and tyres, construction waste, pallets, felled branches and a bonfire site were all on the site and vehicle fluids were leaking into the soil. Natural England has since taken action to clear the site.
The SSSI, which is located between Basingstoke and Aldershot, comprises nearly 130 hectares of wood pasture, rare grassland habitats, meadows and common land at the junction of the London Clay, Plateau Gravel and Lower Bagshot Beds on the edge of the Thames Basin. The Common was formerly used by Edward the Confessor as a hunting ground before being developed into the land which is seen today, predominantly oak trees, but with isolated patches of meadow.
The site is home to 39 ancient woodland species such as woodruff, early-purple orchid, wood spurge and Solomon’s-seal, as well as nationally rare deadwood invertebrates, reptiles, and birds such as woodcock and wood warbler.
Andrew Smith, Manager for Natural England’s Thames Solent Area said:
“It is alarming to see a landowner showing such complete disregard for a protected site in their care. I am pleased that this responsibility has been recognised by the courts.
When we find cases of damage, such as this, in some of England’s most important and precious countryside, we will take enforcement action and, if necessary, prosecute those responsible. We take our role as a regulator seriously. Our aim now is to work with the owner to re-establish the site and avoid damage to the SSSI in future.”
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