Did Conservative Cornwall Councillor illegally bury thousands of tyres on land he farmed?

“Tyres” by JaredEarle is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

West Country Bylines has learned that a Conservative Councillor in Cornwall, who is standing for re-election to Cornwall Council, has been reported to both the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council for allegedly burying large numbers of tyres on land that he farmed.

Adrian Harvey is the sitting Conservative councillor for Newlyn and Goonhavern. The allegations concern land that he farmed until 2018 at Lower Treludderow Farm at Rejerrah, near St Newlyn East in Cornwall.

We understand that the burial sites of the tyres, some 2000 in all, were discovered by the Trewithen Estate, which owns the land, after Mr Harvey had ceased farming it.

Tyres are classed as ‘controlled waste’, and there is a duty of care on waste producers to dispose of old tyres responsibly and in an environmentally friendly way. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 specifies that it is a criminal offence to “keep or manage controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health”, and burial of tyres on agricultural land falls into this category.

We have contacted the Estate Manager of the Trewithen Estate, James Humphries, to ask him if he can confirm that Councillor Harvey has been reported for the alleged offences. Mr Humphries told us that that the matter is the subject of ongoing legal correspondence and that he is therefore unable to comment. Suffice it to say that the matter has been reported to both the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council Environmental Health.

West Country Bylines have submitted freedom of information requests to both bodies but, in the midst of a pandemic, it may take some weeks to obtain a response.
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We have also contacted Mr Harvey himself, who told us that he had “absolutely no comment”.

Mr Harvey is currently campaigning for re-election using posters bearing the message “Better for the Environment”.

Voters at the local elections on 6 May may well ask whether it would be better for the environment for Mr Harvey to be re-elected to Cornwall Council, or whether he should withdraw his candidacy until the serious allegations against him have been satisfactorily answered.