A COUPLE have had to pay nearly half a million pounds in fines, legal costs and remedial action after dumping thousands of tonnes of waste in Fenland.

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Sean and Kerry Reilly, of Garden Grove, Whittlesey, allowed the demolition and construction waste to be tipped on a former petrol filling station and a field, at Pondersbridge, for six years.

The land, on the south side of Ramsey Road, was where the couple ran Kerry Plant Hire (Peterborough) Limited from June 2004 until May 2011, Luton Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

In July 2009, Cambridgeshire County Council served an enforcement notice on the couple instructing them to stop tipping the waste and to restore the land.

The tipping stopped shortly afterwards but the couple refused to carry out any restoration work until the council began legal proceedings against them in June 2011. This also included restraint orders being granted against their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The couple employed a contractor to restore the land under the supervision of county council officers at a cost of £369,300. The field has been returned to agricultural use and seeded with winter barley.

Sentencing the couple, Judge Stuart Bridge said the wilful and persistent breach of the notice had been deliberately ignored to maximise profit and would affect competitors.

The Reillys admitted failing to comply with the enforcement notice.

The court heard they were previously of “impeccable good character” and had worked hard to build a business which employed 50 people.

They had recently restored the land to the satisfaction of the council but they had not “played by the rules”. Their defence asked that any fine imposed should “sting not wound.”

Sean Reilly was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £15 victim surcharge and Kerry Reilly was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £15 victim surcharge. The couple must also pay £31,500 in legal costs.

Councillor Ian Bates, the county council’s cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “We welcome the decision of the court. Prosecution is a last resort as the authority always tries to help businesses rather than take legal action.

“This couple wilfully allowed rubbish to be illegally dumped on this land without permission and made a profit from it.

“We have a duty not only to enforce planning rules that prevent this but also to protect those companies who lawfully dispose of waste and rightly pay to do so.

“We hope this is a warning to others not to ignore enforcement notices and to carry out legal operations.”

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