A man who illegally dumped thousands of tonnes of waste within a North Yorkshire river flood plain has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Phillip Taylor, 70, of Scorton, near Richmond, appeared at York Magistrates’ Court after tipping the waste beside the River Swale over two years.

In a case brought by the Environment Agency, Taylor pleaded guilty to operating an illegal waste activity and an illegal flood risk activity by depositing over 2,400 tonnes of excavation waste within the flood plain.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months and was served with a court order to remove the waste to reduce flood risk.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £9,500 and a victim surcharge of £115.

The court heard that in 2017 and 2018 excavated waste was transported to land known as the Catterick Complex from nearby housing developments, unbeknown to the house builders.

The waste was tipped beside the river to form unauthorised flood defences to protect commercial fishing lakes owned by Taylor.

The downstream village of Catterick flooded in 2012 and has since benefitted from a £6million Environment Agency flood alleviation scheme.

The EA regulates works near main rivers, and their flood plains, to ensure that any changes do not increase flood risk to others or damage important riverside habitats.

The illegal dumping of excavation waste at the Catterick Complex could displace or deflect flood water elsewhere, increasing flood risk. Taylor refused to remove the waste when directed by the EA, the court was told.

Environment Agency’s investigating officer Paul Glasby, said: Due to climate change flooding is becoming more frequent and severe and it’s important that landowners and businesses are aware of the legal restrictions for working in or near main rivers.

"Before doing so they must first gain authorisation from the EA so we can ensure that changes do not increase flood risk to others or damage the environment.

"Taylor showed a blatant disregard for the law and the community around him. Building unauthorised flood defences or conducting unauthorised works in a flood plain is a serious criminal offence and we are determined to take action to protect flood prone communities and the environment."

During sentencing, Deputy District Judge Garland said Taylor was given "repeated warnings" and told him: “It’s clear that there was a deliberate disregard for the rules in the way you went about your business, creating a potential risk.”

The company which transported the waste to the Catterick Complex, Greenford Haulage & Aggregates Ltd, has previously been subject to an Enforcement Undertaking, donating £30,000 to Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies or individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a payment to an environmental charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.