Belfast Telegraph

Ex-farming union chief's dumping shame

Former union leader fined £20k for illegal disposal of waste on his land

By John Mulgrew

A former head of the Ulster Farmers' Union has been fined £20,000 after admitting illegal dumping.

Graham Furey (54), of Comber Road in Downpatrick, admitted to four waste management charges for offences which took place in the Co Down area between 2003 and 2008.

He was fined £5,000 for each offence which included treating, keeping or disposing of waste amounting to almost 2,000 tonnes, in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.

Furey (right) first admitted the charges in October this year before appearing in court yesterday for sentencing.

According to sources, Furey could now face a potential bill of nearly £200,000 if he is compelled to remove the waste from his property. At the same court a local haulier, Samuel 'Elvis' Kirk, of Crossgar Road in Killyleagh, was fined £1,500.

The 52-year-old was fined £500 for three separate charges.

According to the Department of the Environment, Furey was charged with the offences in relation to the illegal deposit of demolition on his land in Downpatrick. The dumping involved some 1,900 tonnes of waste.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency said it had uncovered the buried waste during an "intrusive survey" which included a range of waste including metal drums, lockers and a hydraulic bed frame. They also found hazardous oil and tar, along with electrical wiring, radiators and treated wood. It's understood the waste had originated following the demolition of sections of the old Downe Hospital.

Furey had formerly been president of the UFU and also stood as an Ulster Unionist Party candidate in the 2011 council elections, but failed to win a seat. On the outcome, Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "I welcome the conclusion of this case and the decision of the court. The department will always be rigorous in enforcement actions."

The minister said his department was taking proactive steps in order to have "consistent enforcement" and "penalties that fit the crime".

Furey refused to comment yesterday.

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