THE owner of a skip hire firm faces an £18,257 court bill for tipping an illegal mountain of household and builders’ rubbish in open countryside on the outskirts of York.

The Environment Agency estimates David John Mercer, 45, saved himself up to £91,000 over ten years by not going through the proper procedures for disposing of his waste or getting the right permits.

Holly Webb, prosecuting, told York magistrates that, since 2001, Mercer had dumped rubbish collected from his groundwork contracts with City of York Council and in his 20 hire skips on land off Sutton Road, Wigginton, without permission. His business had an annual turnover of £70,000 to £80,000.

Even after agency officers told him to remove the waste, his skips continued to deliver it.

Mercer’s solicitor, Michael Kirby, said his client now had the proper legal permissions for the waste operation and was operating within the law. Mercer, of Sutton Road, Wigginton, pleaded guilty to two offences of operating a waste transfer and storage unit without a permit. After reading his firm’s accounts, magistrates fined him £15,000, plus £3,242.88 prosecution costs, plus a £15 victim surcharge.

“It’s a fair decision,” said Mercer afterwards. “I was a victim of circumstances. I was too busy working to keep up with the legislation. I didn’t ask enough questions.”

He urged anyone starting up in the waste industry to make sure they knew what the law was and comply with it.

Miss Webb said officers found plastic containers, fencing material, brick rubble, plastic and metal pipes, rotting vegetation producing liquid, worn tyres and mixed waste in various piles ten to 15 metres long and half-a- metre to two metres high, on September 24, 2010.

They twice told Mercer to remove it, and much of it disappeared in the next few months.

They interviewed him on February 16. But when they visited the site on March 18, their vehicle followed a skip on to the site and they found a mattress and children’s toys as well as other rubbish. There was no evidence of pollution.

Mr Kirby said Mercer used the site to sort his waste so he could recycle much of it.

He also had permission to take waste to Rufforth dump.

But after the first officers’ visit, he had to take more than three times as much as he was permitted to dump, so had to continue using the Wigginton site