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Farm owner at Oakview Stud Farm told to pay £12,600 after ignoring requests to stop his ‘toxic’ bonfires

PUBLISHED: 10:06 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:57 10 October 2017

Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council

Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council

Archant

He repeatedly ignored advice - and the complaints of neighbours - now he’s paying a heavy price

Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council

A farm owner has been told to pay more than £12,500 for ignoring complaints and a legal notice to stop igniting toxic bonfires on his land.

The ‘dark smoke’ fires were fuelled by household waste and tyres and prompted numerous complaints from neighbours living nearby.

Now William Cook Jr, of Oakview Stud Farm on Lombard Street in Horton Kirby, has been hit with a big fine and told if he does it again he could go to jail.

Cook has been ordered to pay £12,600 in fines and costs after the council first issued him with a warning in May 2016.

Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council Fire at Oakview Stud Farm which resulted in a hefty fine. Pic: Sevenoaks District Council

Cook, 51, was then issued a community protection notice (CPN) to prohibit fires on the site in November 2016 after council officers attended a large dark smoke fire at his farm which was deemed to be in breach of the Clean Air Act 1993.

However, Cook continued, prompting council environmental health offices to witness three further fires in December 2016 and April 2017.

Cook pleaded guilty at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court to one charge of a dark smoke offence as well as three charges for breaching a CPN, and was fined £1,000 for each offence as well as being ordered to pay £8,500 in costs to the council and a £100 victim surcharge.

The council has also been granted a criminal behaviour order against Cook which, if breached, could lead to imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Matthew Dickins, the council’s cabinet member for direct and trading services, said: “Despite repeated attempts to engage with Mr Cook, he persisted with his polluting bonfires – showing a callous disregard for the law, his neighbours and the environment we hold so dear.

“This case makes crystal clear that environmental crime has no place in the Sevenoaks district and the burning of hazardous waste will simply not be tolerated.

“The granting of a criminal behaviour order demonstrates the seriousness with which the court has taken this matter. I very much welcome its decision and wish to place on record my thanks to the colleagues involved in securing this successful prosecution.”

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