High Court orders landowner to clear mounds of rubbish from 14-hectare beauty spot in ancient woodland in Kent he used as an illegal dumping ground after seven-year legal battle
- Langley Beck, 58, has been ordered to clear waste from his land in Boxley, Kent
- Neighbours have complained for years to Maidstone Borough Council
- Mr Beck says he is entitled to dispose of waste because he pays council tax
- He says life ‘wouldn’t be worth living’ if he was ordered off the land
A farmer who turned his land into an eyesore by using it as illegal dumping-ground for years has been ordered to have the mess cleared up by October.
Langley Beck, 58, was finally hit this week with a High Court injunction after a seven-year legal fight with Maidstone Borough Council.
The site stretches over 36 acres of ancient woodland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – but has been wrecked by the disposal of industrial rubbish and car parts.
Years of waste, rusted cabins, demolition rubble, and old cars being dumped have left the site in a pitiable state.
The mess on the land is so bad, it can be seen by satellite on Google Earth
Langley Beck, 58, has been handed a High Court order telling him to clean up the mess within six months
Mr Beck has also been ordered to leave his land by the court, which he says has made him feel his life is ‘not worth living’.
In addition to being made to clear up, Mr Beck has been ordered to pay Maidstone Council £10,000 in legal costs and told that all activity has to cease.
The land sits a stone’s throw from the famous Pilgrim’s Way, where wayfarers would journey to the shrine of the 12th Century Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket.
Maidstone Borough Council says the area has long been used as an illegal dumping ground for all manner of waste, with the blot on the landscape so messy it is clearly visible from Google Earth.
Neighbours have complained of a frequent acrid burning smell polluting the air but Mr Beck denies having burned any waste and only tree waste
Pictures show how it has also expanded, with it appearing much larger now in Google Earth images from September 2013.
Neighbours are said to have complained to the council for years of a burning acrid smell but Mr Beck has denied burning tyres and says he only burns tree waste.
The council was handed an interim order by the High Court earlier this year but it has now secured a full injunction telling Mr Beck he must cease and desist any activity on the site.
If Mr Beck fails to take notice, the injunction is prosecutable through committal proceedings in the High Court.
James Bailey, the council’s Planning and Development Manager said: ‘Maidstone Borough Council has taken this action as it was clear that the unlawful site was expanding and there was a continued threat of further harm to the area.’
‘The Council has tried to resolve the situation with the landowner over many years, but he has chosen to ignore the Enforcement Notice and Deputy Judge of the High Court Clare Ambrose made the decision that the harm to the site could not continue any longer.
Mr Beck has said that protected trees on the site that have disappeared is due to a storm
Mr Beck has claimed he was not aware he needed permission to use the site as a waste ground
‘With the help of Ivy Legal we are pleased that we have managed to secure the full injunction.
‘This outcome hopefully sends a clear message that this type of illegal dumping of waste will not be tolerated and is a great example of how when needed, MBC works with its partner agencies to take the strongest possible action against people who repeatedly flout the law.’
Mr Beck moved to the site with his mum in 1984 and his grandad rented the site before that.
He has lived for many years in a cabin on the site that has no electricity or internet and says he has paid council tax since 2011.
Over the past seven years, Mr Beck has given an array of excuses in order to continue using the site as a dumping ground.
He initially ignored notices to clean up the mess and carried on as before.
He then said he has mis-read a notice as one of eviction for people living on the land and has since said that others are simply taking advantage of him by dumping their waste there.
He has also said he was unaware that planning permission was needed for him to dispose of waste, as well as claiming that waste on the land is simply stored building materials for a house he plans to erect.
He said that when he first started breaking up vehicles and taking building materials, permission was not needed and that since 1993, others companies have used his site.
The site sits within an area of ancient woodland with protected trees, many of which have clearly disappeared over the years, which Mr Beck blames on a storm.
He plans to appeal the high court ruling stating that he has lived at the site legally.
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