Firm fined �1400 for illegal use of land

A FAMILY-run business that restores historic buildings has been fined for illegally using land close to a special landscape area to store a variety of disused items.

A FAMILY-run business that restores historic buildings has been fined for illegally using land close to a special landscape area to store a variety of disused items.

Tom Webster, of Preservation in Action, based at Blythburgh, near Southwold, pleaded guilty to breaching an enforcement order.

He appeared before magistrates in Lowestoft last month and was fined �1,400 and asked to pay �250 costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

The action was brought by Suffolk Coastal District Council and the Environment Agency after they discovered the company had been illegally using land next to the A12 at Thorington to store materials.


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It included a caravan, portable buildings and materials such as metal drums, broken bonded asbestos sheeting, scrap metal, household, commercial and industrial waste and household appliances, the council said.

Authorities became aware of the activity in 2007 and had tried to get the site cleaned up but when representatives visited in March last year they warned Mr Webster legal action would be taken if he failed to stop his unauthorised use of the area.

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Ivan Jowers, chairman of the north area development control sub-committee at the district council, said: 'Mr Webster's continuing disregard for planning rules left us with no choice other than to take enforcement action.

'This is meant to be agricultural land abutting the internationally important Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and to use it as basically a dumping ground showed a complete disregard for planning rules and indeed the unmatched quality of our environment.'

Mr Webster, who owns the land on which the material was stored and has run his business for 35 years, said he had applied for change of use planning permission to allow him to keep the items there but this was refused.

He said he would now be appealing the decision but had already started to clear some of the site. 'I restore old and ancient properties so I am keen on conservation and protecting the environment,' he added. 'I planted more than 1,000 tress around the site five years ago to shield it from view and you can't tell it is there from the A12.

'In my opinion it is less conspicuous than other land uses around here. It is farmland but it is completely useless, you can't do anything with it.

'I've already cleared some of the items that were mentioned and I am currently looking for alternative accommodation.

'I apologise to the court. It has not been my intention to cause any harm.'

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