A workman who dumped more than 51 tonnes of tyres at a waste ground has been jailed for 11 months.
Declan Clarke, 30, was involved in “large-scale” fly tipping of tyres and household waste across Glasgow.
Clarke dumped the tyres which were later set ablaze by others in the city’s Drumchapel causing flight disruption at Glasgow Airport in July 2020.
He then discarded a further 500 tyres at Gartloch Farm near Glasgow Fort shopping centre months after police raided his home for the earlier offence.
Clarke, of Drumchapel, pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to depositing controlled waste on or in land otherwise than in accordance with a waste management licence.
Sheriff John McCormick said: “This was fly tipping on an industrial scale at a number of locations.
“The photographs and videos I saw spoke volumes.
“You dumped tens of tonnes of tyres and persisted in this activity from June to November 2020 and hired workers and vans to do so.
“You continued to do so even after you knew you were a suspect.
“This is not a victimless crime as there was a cost to the public purse and landowners had to make a substantial cost due to fly tipping to having this cleared.
“The amenity of the countryside was also affected.
“A sentence needs be imposed not just to mark the gravity but to the cost to others and to deter others committing a similar activity.
“There is no appropriate sentence available other than custody.”
The court was told that Clarke ran an illegitimate business collecting vanloads of tyres from car garages and tyre fitters for a fee.
Prosecutor Joe Stewart added: “Instead of disposing the tyres lawfully, Clarke simply dumped them on streets, car parks and empty land.”
Two white vans were captured on CCTV attending Dalsetter Crescent, Drumchapel, 33 times dumping 51 tonnes of tyres.
Another van was clocked with men exiting and dumping tyres on near a grass verge on Drummore Road.
They were seen to dump more tyres in Glenkirk Drive 20 minutes later.
Mr Stewart said: “On July 18, 2020, an employee at the Donald Dewar Centre noticed that approximately 200 tyres had been dumped at the bottom of the car park.
“CCTV of the centre showed the two vans attending on 9 and 13 July.”
An employee of the van hire company noticed that the brakes and handbrakes of the vehicle appeared not to work.
The employee pulled over to find 156 tyres in the cargo area.
Mr Stewart said: “On the evening of July 24, the waste at Dalsetter Crescent was set on fire.
“The fire consumed much of the waste that was present.
“A huge amount of smoke was produced which disrupted flights at Glasgow Airport.”
The Glasgow City Council cleansing department later removed 51 tonnes of tyres.
A further 17 tonnes of household waste – which was not Clarke’s responsibility – was also lifted.
Police searched Clarke’s home on July 30 after a warrant was issued and a key to one of the vans was recovered.
Clarke was not arrested at the time.
He then went on to be observed on CCTV at Gartloch Farm depositing tyres on 12 occasions in October 2020.
Mr Stewart added: “On October 22, he owner of the farm was driving past when he saw a Transit van to be in one of his fields stuck in mud.
“He saw Clarke and a boy trying to free the van from the mud and he called the police.”
Police later found the abandoned van which was insecure and contained 60 tyres.
Clarke and the boy were caught a short time later.
A total of 500 tyres had been deposited at the farm.
A second warrant was issued at Clarke’s home and he was caught hiding under a bed by officers.
Another van was found to be “full of tyres.”
Clarke’s phone contained conversations about tyre collection and that he was being paid £1-£2 per tyre.
In one message he said: “It’s a getting a bit hot to get rid of them.”
It was revealed that it cost Glasgow City Council £7,245 to remove the waste from Dalsetter Crescent.
A private firm have quoted Gartloch Farm £120,000 to remove the tyres.
Mr Stewart said: “Seven of the eight separate piles of tyres were set on fire causing the soil beneath to become contaminated.”
Brian Lannigan, defending, told the court that the fire Dalsetter Crescent was not caused by dad-of-four Clarke.
The lawyer added: “He was employed fitting granite worktops in private houses and because of the pandemic the ability to engage with people in their homes was limited and he lost that job.
“He began to use cocaine, accrued a debt of £5,000 and his family required to be maintained.
“Foolishly, he accepted the criminality he engaged in.”
Sergeant Nigel McDonald, from Drumchapel police station, said: “Declan Clarke was an opportunistic criminal using his illegitimate business to collect tonnes of rubbish for a fee before just dumping them across the city.
“Not only did this end up costing significant sums for the authorities to clear up, but there has been serious and long-lasting environmental damage to a number of areas where tyres or waste were heaped and set on fire.
“It is sadly highly unusual for fly-tipping cases like this to result in a custodial sentence, but it goes some way to show the seriousness of Clarke’s repeated offences. I’d like to thank our partners at Glasgow City Council and SEPA for their efforts as part of our joint-investigation into this matter.”
Stephen Egan, Glasgow City Council’s Head of Parks and Streetscene, said: “This was a shocking example of fly-tipping and we welcome the outcome of this case.
“We had to divert significant resources to clear up the waste dumped by this individual and the subsequent fire was clearly dangerous and detrimental to the local environment. As has been shown by this case, someone guilty of fly-tipping is often just the tip of the iceberg.
“The garages and other businesses that passed their waste to this individual will have known the deal being offered was too good to be true and should have made sure their waste was disposed of lawfully.
“To protect our shared environment we all have a responsibility to dispose of our waste in the proper manner at all times.”
Kath McDowall, Unit Manager at SEPA’s Serious Environmental Crime Team, said: “Waste crime has a serious and detrimental impact on our environment, communities and compliant businesses.
“Criminals see waste as a money-making enterprise and we work closely with partners to share information and work together to use the best powers to tackle this behaviour.
“We were pleased to work alongside Police Scotland in the detection and disruption of this significant waste offence, which has resulted in a sentence we hope will act as a deterrent to others.”