The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council have welcomed the sentencing of Declan Clarke (30) at Glasgow Sheriff Court, for large-scale fly-tipping offences across the city, particularly in the Drumchapel and Gartloch areas.
Clarke was sentenced on Wednesday 8 June 2022 to 11 months imprisonment.
He originally pleaded guilty on Thursday, 21 April, 2022, after being accused of dumping more than 51 tonnes of tyres and household waste at a number of sites in June and October 2020.
Mr Clarke collected tyres from garages for a fee and hired workers and vans to dispose of them in car parks and empty land.
Most of the tyres were dumped at Dalsetter Crescent in Drumchapel which was consumed in a fire on 24 July, 2020. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the fire caused so much smoke it disrupted flights at Glasgow Airport. Two days later, Glasgow City Council workers cleared the remnants and found the debris consisted of 51 tonnes of tyres and 17 tonnes of household waste.
In addition, about 500 tyres were also dumped at Gartloch Farm, near Gartcosh to the east of Glasgow, in a two-week period in October 2020, with more deposited there on one day the following month.
Wildlife cameras installed at the farm after previous fly-tipping incidents captured Mr Clarke, using several different hire vans, dumping tyres on 12 occasions. He was eventually caught after the farm’s owner spotted Mr Clarke and a boy trying to free a van stuck in mud in one of his fields.
Furthermore, other tyres were left around the Drumchapel area at Drummore Road, Glenkirk Drive and the Donald Dewar Centre.
Police searched Clarke’s home on 20 November, 2020 and found him hiding under a bed. They also discovered a key for another hire van, which was parked outside his flat and found to be full of tyres. A mobile phone seized contained messages between Clarke and owners of garages and tyre fitters which discussed collecting the tyres. The messages appeared to indicate that Clarke was charging £1-£2 per tyre.
Prosecutors said the cost of cleaning up Dalsetter Crescent was £7,245.16, while the estimated cost of cleaning up Gartloch Farm was £120,000 and a further £2,800 to dispose of the remaining tyres.
Sentencing Clarke, Sheriff John McCormick said his actions constituted “fly-tipping on an industrial scale” at a number of locations. “The photographs and videos I saw spoke volumes,” he said. The sheriff said Clarke continued to dump “tens of tonnes of tyres” even after he knew he was a suspect. It was “not a victimless crime”, he added, as there was a cost to the public purse and landowners also had to make a “substantial” contribution to having the debris cleared.
Kath McDowall, Unit Manager at SEPA’s Serious Environmental Crime Team, said: “Waste crime has a serious and detrimental impact on our environment, communities and compliant businesses. Criminals see waste as a money-making enterprise and we work closely with partners to share information and work together to use the best powers to tackle this behaviour. We were pleased to work alongside Police Scotland in the detection and disruption of this significant waste offence, which has resulted in a sentence we hope will act as a deterrent to others.
“SEPA will continue to work closely with partners to tackle persistent non-compliance and criminal activity related to waste tyres, which have the potential to release hazardous substances into the environment if set on fire and are a blight on the landscape if not treated, recycled or disposed of properly.”
Sergeant Nigel McDonald, from Drumchapel police station, said: “Declan Clarke was an opportunistic criminal using his illegitimate business to collect tonnes of rubbish for a fee before just dumping them across the city.
“Not only did this end up costing significant sums for the authorities to clear up, but there has been serious and long-lasting environmental damage to a number of areas where tyres or waste were heaped and set on fire.
“It is sadly highly unusual for fly-tipping cases like this to result in a custodial sentence, but it goes some way to show the seriousness of Clarke’s repeated offences. I’d like to thank our partners at Glasgow City Council and SEPA for their efforts as part of our joint-investigation into this matter.”
Stephen Egan, Glasgow City Council’s Head of Parks and Streetscene, said: “This was a shocking example of fly-tipping and we welcome the outcome of this case.
“We had to divert significant resources to clear up the waste dumped by this individual and the subsequent fire was clearly dangerous and detrimental to the local environment. As has been shown by this case, someone guilty of fly-tipping is often just the tip of the iceberg.
“The garages and other businesses that passed their waste to this individual will have known the deal being offered was too good to be true and should have made sure their waste was disposed of lawfully.
“To protect our shared environment we all have a responsibility to dispose of our waste in the proper manner at all times.”