Environment Agency investigating claims of illegal waste activity at Thirwell Farm in Hernhill near Faversham

The Environment Agency is investigating claims waste is continuing to be illegally dumped at a site near Faversham. Between 2014 and 2016, 135 lorry loads of soil and builders’ rubbish were found to have been unlawfully deposited and treated at Thirwell Farm in Hernhill. In April 2015, officers from the Environment Agency and police raided the site following a number of reports of waste being tipped there.

Waste piled high at Thirwell Farm (15182428)

They found large piles of soil and rubble, as well as processing machinery.

During the visit, environment officers even turned back a lorry that had arrived at the site to tip its load.

The work required an environmental permit, which the truck driver did not have. A jury later found a family trio guilty of breaking environmental law following a six-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court in July. Billie Mete, 27, walked free from court after serving more than half of a 28-day stint in jail for failing to attend court in March.

She helped run the operation with her father, 56-year-old James, and sister, Lucy, 26, for two years.

Illegal waste activity is claimed to still be happening at the farm.

Picture: Andy Jones. (15044827)

Warrants for the arrests of the pair remain in place after they went missing during the trial.

But Robert Wraight, of Horsehill Farm in Monkshill Road, says the dumping had been happening for many years prior to 2014, and that illegal activity continues to take place. The 72-year-old farmer also claims a number of fires at the site recently have caused a “real nuisance” for people living in the area. Mr Wraight said : “It has been going on for the best part of 20 years, with hundreds and hundreds of lorries going to the site, even at weekends.

“There are still diggers and work going on at the site; we can hear the noise and see it as my farm goes right up to it. “There have also been a number of fires, and toxic smoke is a real nuisance for people living nearby. We can’t work in the farmyard because of the smoke.

“A lot of people in the area grow soft fruit, and toxic ash from these fires has been going onto it.”

Helen Whately (15285738)

MP Helen Whately says it is “incredibly frustrating” that there are still reports of illegal activity at the farm and has slammed the situation as unacceptable.

She said: “People nearby are having to put up with noise and toxic smoke, along with the unsightly mess of a dump that shouldn’t be there. “This has been going on for years and it’s simply not acceptable. “Over the last four years I’ve been in contact with the Environment Agency, Swale Borough Council, the police and the government, to get this stopped.

“I know they have made great efforts to stop the illegal activities. “The prosecution earlier this year should have brought it to an end, but clearly this is not the case.

“This has been going on for years and it’s simply not acceptable…” Helen Whately

“I’m pleased the Environment Agency is investigating the most recent complaints and people with evidence of illegal activity at the site should contact them. “We cannot have some people get away with flouting the law while everyone else obeys it.

“The dumping must stop and the site should be cleared up and made good.” The Environment Agency has confirmed it is still investigating activity at the site. A spokesman said: “We continue to investigate alleged waste movement at Thirwell Farm.

“We are gathering evidence and if we believe criminal activity is happening then we will pursue it, as we did before.”

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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