Hampshire landowner to pay more than £35,000 after running illegal scrap metal dealership
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Christopher Ball, who traded under the company name C Ball and Sons, was fined £3,600 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to conducting unauthorised operations likely to damage the site.
Ball ran his business from Odiham Common in Hook, without informing Natural England of his plans.
The common is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and is home to 39 ancient woodland species.
At Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court, he was prosecuted by the public body as the court heard how he left vehicles, vehicle parts and tyres, construction waste, pallets, felled branches and a bonfire on the site, with vehicle fluids leaking into the soil.
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.’
Natural England will now work to re-establish the site and avoid further damage in the future, after Ball previously refused to cooperate with clearing the site.