Well-known farmer penalised for clearing up other people’s rubbish

Cambridgeshire farmer Oliver Walston has branded the laws governing waste disposal “an ass” after he was refused permission to offload rubbish that had been fly-tipped on his land at his local tip.

Mr Walston says he and his staff had spent a day tidying up the fields and hedges on his Thriplow Farm in South Cambridgeshire, collecting an array of kitchen waste, plastic bags and light fittings.

But when he turned up at the household rubbish tip in Thriplow village, he was told he could not dispose of it there as it was technically commercial waste. Instead, he was instructed to take it to the commercial site 15 miles away, for which he would be charged. He would also require a licence from the Environment Agency to move it.

oliver walston

“The whole thing is just bonkers,” Mr Walston told Farmers Weekly. “There was not a huge amount of rubbish anyway and if I had just put it in six bin bags and given it to my 23-year-old neice, she could have dropped it off without a problem. I was simply trying to do a good community service by clearing up other peoples’ rubbish and I’m told I’m acting illegally. The law is an ass!”

Mr Walston added that, had the rubbish been fly-tipped beside a road, it would have been the council’s responsibility. “But as soon as it gets on your land it becomes commercial waste.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said he had sympathy with Mr Walston’s situation, but technically the Thriplow tip operators were right to turn him away.

“The law which differentiates between household waste and commercial waste is clear, but unfair,” he said. “Household waste recycling centres can only take household waste – waste generated by the householder. Mr Walston was disposing of other people’s waste, albeit waste left on his land, so it would therefore be classified as commercial waste.”

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