Â£500,000 clean-up bill after 'scammers' dump 8,000 tonnes of rubbish in Sheffield warehouse
These photos show the 8,000 tonnes of rubbish dumped in a Sheffield warehouse whose owner says he has fallen victim to a "commercial fly-tipping" operation.
Giles Norton, 41, has been left with a Â£500,000 bill for its removal after discovering the 16,000 sq ft unit abandoned by the firm renting it out from him. He had signed a two-year rental lease with a company claiming to be a supplier of short shelf-life products such as packets of crisps. However two months later he made the shock discovery after receiving a phone call from the Environment Agency. He said: "I opened the door and could not believe the sight. "The amount of rubbish meant you could not get into the building - they had done a proper job on the place,. "They've removed the inside walls to fill out other units in the building and even put plastic-wrapped bales on top of the office which has collapsed under the weight. "There wasn't a square foot which wasn't filled." Giles had inherited the former steelworks building in Sheffield, South Yorks.,from his father. He discovered in November 2015 that the company he had leased it to in April the same year - hauliers WT Roadways LTD - had been dissolved. The Environment Agency is currently pursuing a prosecution against the firm but now father-of-four Giles has been landed with a Â£500,000 bill for the waste's removal. He said: "I signed the contract with this firm on April 1 - which turned out to be April Fool's Day for me. "They've dumped about 200 lorry loads. "I must have tried to phone or email the firm's director more than 500 times but he never replied. "After about six weeks I started to think 'right, I get it' and realised he'd just dumped it all on me." "So far I've spent Â£250,000 removing the waste and it will cost me another Â£250,000 to get rid of it all. "It's mostly made up of unrecyclable waste from demolitions - things like carpet underlay and plastics. "But I'm having to have it all transported up to Ferrybridge Power Station for burning. "And when the waste is all gone I'll have to pay to have the building demolished as it's unsafe." Giles, who also runs a bee farm and a Christmas tree business, hopes to be able to get planning permission to see the warehouse demolished and developed. He said: "When people come and see the place they see all the rubbish and just walk away. "Two-and-a-half years ago I thought this was going to be the end of me. "But you just start dealing with it and crack on - it's bloody hard and a real job every single day. "I was told in January last year this would be in court within two years but we are now halfway through that time. "I'm thinking to myself someone is running around smiling their socks off and making a lot of money out of all this." An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Landowners can be significantly affected by criminals who gain access to their land for the purposes of dumping illegal waste. "These bogus waste operators deposit the waste on open land and in warehouses and then they disappear leaving the landowners to foot the bill for the clean-up costs. "These can be substantial and can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. "Our advice to landowners and agents is to be vigilant in protecting themselves from the risks of illegal waste operators. "Carry out rigorous checks on prospective tenants, securing adequate identification documents and a down-payment from a traceable bank account before accepting them." "Landowners should also check their property regularly to ensure that it is not being misused." WT Roadways LTD's director was unable to be contacted for comment despite repeated attempts.