Jail for dumping waste

A rogue trader has been jailed for allowing thousands of tonnes of waste to be illegally dumped at a site in Somerset. the waste material included hazardous waste. 100,000 tonnes of waste at Stowey Quarry, a former limestone quarry near Chew Valley reservoir. The material was dumped in the quarry in the first nine months of 2016. Discovery of the material sparked an intensive investigation by the Environment Agency (EA).

M E Foley (Contractors) Ltd ran the site under an environmental permit. Stowey Quarry was only permitted to accept ‘clean’ and ‘non-hazardous’ material. This could include soil and construction waste for recovery purposes to build bunds and embankments in the quarry.

Despite repeated warnings, the illegal tipping and waste disposal continued. In October 2016 the Environment Agency served M E Foley (Contractors) Ltd with a Suspension Notice. This cancelled their permit to operate the quarry.

The Environment Agency launched an investigation to establish the potential risk to human health. Samples taken from trial pits and bore holes revealed a high percentage of chopped/shredded materials. these included plastics, metals, foam and other man-made materials. Analysis showed that about half the samples were hazardous and either carcinogenic or ecotoxic.

Much of the waste arriving at Stowey Quarry was misleadingly described as a ‘soil substitute’. This the EA claim was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the rules. The storage and disposal of hazardous material contravened the site’s permit that only allowed clean/inert waste. The EA note that the operator was also lying about the amount being received. The EA ran checks on waste transfer notes provided by the waste producers and hauliers. It estimated that in 2016 alone, almost 95,000 tonnes of waste was deposited at Stowey Quarry. Double the 44,950 tonnes declared by M E Foley (Contractors) Ltd.

Mark Foley, of Cardiff, was jailed for 2 years and 3 months at Bristol Crown Court. His activities were described as “one of the most serious risks of harm in the country during the past 30 years”. Foley was also jailed for a further 18 weeks, to be served concurrently, for supplying false information to the EA. The company was fined £72,000 and failed to provide the court with any company accounts.


  • When Wales has declared independence from the UK, we’ll be able to control commercial traffic crossing the Severn Bridge.

  • The sentence was not nearly long enough. The judge should have imposed a much heavier fine too as £72k does not reflect the costs of investigation, let alone those of clearing the contamination.

  • Brian Christopher Livings

    Concur with the above, should have been 5 yrs min With remission he’ll be out in 12 mths. What a joke. This sentence should be appealed . I hope the EA applies now for criminal restatement costs by seizing all of his assets.

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