Pair must pay £240k for injecting raw sewage and abattoir waste into Cornish farmland

The scheme saw the pair dispose of raw sewage and other controlled wastes in giant storage tankersCredit: Environment Agency

Two men have been told to pay more than £240,000 for running an illegal scheme which saw raw sewage, abattoir washings and other substances “injected” into the Cornish countryside.

A two-year investigation by the Environment Agency found the two men worked together to purchase and inappropriately dispose of the substances for far below the market rate.

Company director Neal Tremayne used his firm, Carnon Valley Transport, to collect raw sewage, septic tank contents and other controlled wastes from holiday and caravan parks, hotels, a farm, abattoir and a car dealership.

He then put that liquid waste into giant storage tankers belonging to Brian Matthews. 

Matthews then charged just a quarter of the going rate to dispose of the substances. To make the scheme economical, he injected the mixture into the ground at agricultural locations he rented in Kehelland, Crosslanes, Sparnock and Mithian in West Cornwall.  

Both men pleaded guilty to various environmental offences.

Matthews, of Twelvehead, Truro was ordered to pay £136,674.50 under the Proceeds of Crime Act within three months or face imprisonment. He was also fined £8,000 and must pay £10,000 in costs at Truro Crown Court on Thursday 14 April.

Judge Carr said Matthews’ scheme was “woefully lax and inadequate”.

He added: “It was effectively an open door policy for waste to be deposited. No staff on site, no inspections, no checking of the chits. 

“It was no surprise that Brian Matthews was able to charge significantly less for disposal and run a profitable business, making £1.3million between 2013 and 2019.” 

It was found Matthews did not have the proper measures in place to check that only septic tank waste was going into his tanks, nor did he have the environmental permits needed to screen and test the waste prior to storage for spreading. 

Meanwhile, Neal Tremayne of Penryn, Cornwall, was ordered to pay £80,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act within three months or face imprisonment.

He was also given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, alongside fines for him and his firm totalling £3,000 plus £3,450 in costs.  

He previously pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court in November 2019, but Matthews’ conviction has finally brought the long-running case to a close.

During an interview, Tremayne claimed he was keeping costs down for customers of his Carnon Valley Transport Ltd business by paying Matthews £27 to dispose of a 4,500l tanker load of liquid waste – considerably less than the going rate of £60-£100 for proper disposal.  

During the two-year period investigated by the Environment Agency, Matthews accepted around 73 million litres of liquid waste – the equivalent of £432,000 income.  

Tremayne also admitted failing to give waste transfer notes to customers which detail where waste has come from, its quantity, contents and destination.

Fraudulent waste transfer notes were also produced by Tremanyne for one client, an upmarket car retailer.

In them, he claimed car wash effluent was being taken to South West Water for disposal. In reality, it was given to Matthews for injection into the ground. 

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “When done properly and with care, sludge from sewage plants and septic tanks can provide suitable crop nutrient.

“However, if abused as a cheap and nasty form of disposal to undercut the competitive marketplace, then it is not just legitimate businesses that suffer but also the environment. 

“There are regulations in place to prevent toxic chemicals like these from polluting the environment and endangering human health. Ignorance of the rules is not a defence.” 

Raw sewage can carry potentially toxic elements such as viruses, bacteria and pathogens like salmonella. 

Source: ITV 20th April 2022