Equestrian did not run illegal waste site
A former international three-day eventer has been cleared of operating an illegal waste site at his North Devon farm.
Hendrik Wiegersma was found not guilty of the offence on the directions of the judge at Exeter Crown Court, but still faces a related charge of depositing controlled waste without a permit.
The 62-year-old equestrian, whose daughter Lucy is a top international rider, runs a schooling ring and stables at Warren Farm, Highampton, near Beaworthy, North Devon. He is one of four men who are accused of breaking environmental laws by using recycled tyres in construction projects.
The tyres are baled up in steel-banded parcels of about 100 a time and buried to improve drainage and provide a yielding base for arenas, schooling paddocks or gallops.
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A jury has heard six weeks of evidence in the prosecution brought by the Environment Agency in which they allege the operation amounted to the illegal burial of unwanted old tyres.
Judge Phillip Wassall instructed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty to one of the two charges which Wiegersma faced on the indictment. It alleged he operated a regulated waste disposal facility without a permit.
The judge told the jury he had ruled the regulatory regime had not been made clear to Wiegersma at the time of the alleged offences in September 2009.
Wiegersma told the jury he accepted the tyres on his land because he thought they were a legitimate building material and he accepted £5 a bale payment for them because he saw it as akin to sponsorship.
The jury are due to retire next week after counsel for four defendants and two companies have made closing speeches and the judge has summed up.