Skip to main content

Perthshire man issued £3,500 civil penalty for illegal buried waste

Date published: 29 November 2023


A Perthshire man has been served with a civil penalty of £3,500 by Scotland’s environment regulator for allowing controlled waste to be disposed of by burial when no waste management licence was in place authorising the activity.

The Variable Monetary penalty (VMP) was issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to James Roberts Marshall following an investigation by SEPA officers. He was also required to pay SEPA costs of £1,050.  

On 4 November 2019 two SEPA officers attended the site in Dunning following reports of illegally buried waste. They requested a hole be excavated and saw a variety of waste - including batteries, plastics, metals, packaging, cables, aluminium, chipboard, piping, fabrics, wood, paper and plaster board. Officers noted that the remains of a waste portacabin were evident in what had been buried. Individuals working for Mr Marshall confirmed they had been instructed to dig a hole and bury a portacabin and its contents in it. 

A number of documents from James Roberts Marshall’s business activities, which were dated between 2008 and 2011, were also found within the buried waste. 

There was no waste management licence or exemption in place that would authorise the activity.  

Mr Marshall has since paid for the removal of the waste, and its disposal at a suitable licenced site.   

Calum McGregor, SEPA Environmental Crime Team Manager, said: 

“Mr Marshall knowingly permitted waste to be buried on an area of a site in Dunning despite not having a waste management licence. He has Waste Management Licences and Waste Management Exemptions for other areas of land and is fully aware of the requirements of the waste regulations and his environmental responsibility.  

“We hope this penalty imposed, plus payment of SEPA’s costs, demonstrates SEPA’s commitment to take proportionate enforcement action when operators fail to comply with regulations designed to protect our environment. VMPs are a relatively new tool in our kit and we will not hesitate to use them when appropriate.”   

Civil penalties

VMPs are discretionary financial penalties which SEPA can impose for a relevant offence following an appropriate investigation. They sit alongside other enforcement tools available to SEPA staff, including advice and guidance, final warning letters, statutory enforcement notices, other civil penalties, including Fixed Monetary Penalties (FMPs) and reports to the Procurator Fiscal. 

SEPA have determined that the amount of the variable monetary penalty is £3,500 for this offence.  

SEPA’s enforcement action is designed to secure compliance with regulatory requirements, protecting and improving the environment. It aims to bring activity under regulatory control, stop offending, stop harm or reduce the risk of harm arising from non-compliance. It is also designed to ensure restoration or remediation of harm caused by regulatory non-compliance where appropriate. 

Notes to editors

SEPA is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that James Roberts Marshall knowingly caused or permitted controlled waste, namely batteries, hard plastics, rope, lawnmower tyres, metals, packaging, cables, aluminium, small steering wheel, chipboard, smooth and ribbed piping, fabrics, treated and untreated wood, black plastics, paper and plaster board to be disposed of in land at the above location without the authority of a waste management licence between December 2018 and January 2019, in that James Roberts Marshall did instruct persons to dispose of the said controlled waste by burial in the said land when no waste management licence was in place authorising said activity.

This is contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 33(1)(b)(i), which states that, “a person shall not knowingly cause or knowingly permit controlled waste to be disposed of in any land except under and in accordance with a waste management licence”. It is an offence under Section 33(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to contravene Section 33(1)(b)(i).

The Variable Monetary Penalty Notice is available on SEPA’s website at Penalties imposed and undertakings accepted, along with details of  Fixed Monetary Penalties (FMPs) and Enforcement Undertakings accepted. Note that SEPA only began publishing names and partial addresses of individuals for penalties issued after 1 March 2022.   

Information on how a VMP is calculated is available

Variable Monetary Penalties (VMPs) cover a wide range of environmental offences, including offences under The Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and the Pollution, Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012.