Equestrian on trial for waste offences
A FORMER international event rider has gone on trial accused of waste offences at an equestrian centre near Hatherleigh.
Hendrik Wiegersma, 62, is on trial at Exeter Crown Court this week alongside four other defendants.
The trial, expected to last six weeks, concerns bales made from thousands of old car tyres which he used at 170-acre Warren Farm, Highampton.
The jury has been told Wiegersma was paid £5 for each bale he took from a company called Recycled Construction Systems.
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He received 2,000 of the bales – each containing 100 tyres – which he planned to use in making a new roadway.
The prosecution alleges the bales had not been made to an approved standard.
It meant they were no better than controlled waste and posed a danger to the environment, the court was told.
Wiegersma denies depositing controlled waste and operating a regulated facility without a permit.
The court heard RCS, run by Tom Dunn and Lawrence Poole, imported baling machines from America and supplied them to tyre businesses to use in creating tyre bales.
The company, based at Woodbury Salterton, near Exeter, then paid equestrian centres to take the bales.
They were used to provide drainage underneath new paths, paddocks or schooling areas.
The process could have been legal if the bales had been of the approved standard. But the prosecution says they were not.
Prosecutor James Ageros said the fact that RCS paid a fee to people who took the bales indicated they were seen as waste.
He told jurors: "There was a wholesale lack of compliance with standards for tyre bales.
"These remain in place on land in Devon and they amount to a blot on the landscape."
He said the first equestrian centre to take the tyres was Stidston at South Brent in Devon.
Owner Gail Wonnacott initially approached Mr Dunn hoping to buy rubber crumb for her schooling area.
He persuaded her to take bales instead and his father and other drivers continued to deliver them until there was no more room for them.
Dartmoor National Park officials became worried about their impact on the landscape.
The owner's father counted them and found there were 1,306, containing around 130,600 old tyres.
None of the bales complied with the standard needed to allow them to be used in a construction project.
The next client for RCS was Mr Wiegersma.
The final customer was international eventer Nicholas Gauntlett, 34, who runs his stables at Chascombe Farm in Gloucestershire.
He was paid to take hundreds of bales which he planned to use to install drainage under a new roadway, the court heard.
Environment Agency senior crime officer Adrian Evans told the jury some of the tyre bales he examined at a Dartmoor stables were so poorly made they were dangerous.
He said: "They were the worst I have ever seen. I felt they were particularly bad.
"They failed to meet the standard and were not suitable for use in any construction project. They were simply waste."
Tom Dunn denies five counts of depositing controlled waste without a licence or permit.
His father Nigel denies two identical charges and Poole denies three. Dunn also denies fraud and transporting prohibited waste. Poole also denies failing to prevent an escape of waste.
Wiegersma and Gauntlett deny depositing controlled waste and operating a regulated facility without a permit.
Gauntlett also denies two counts of fraud which relate to statements he made to South Gloucestershire Council and one of failing to provide information.
The trial continues and is scheduled to last six weeks.
Warren Farm used to be a dairy farm but was converted to an all-equestrian enterprise when the Wiegersma family moved there in 2001. It is home to Hatherleigh Horse Trials.