Episode 3 Filthy Rotten Scoundrels


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Episode 3

The documentary series goes behindthe scenes of an investigation by the Environment Agency, including undercover surveillance, a night-time mission and a tense raid.


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Every day, a never-ending war is being waged across Britain

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to clean up our towns and countryside.

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It's a massive problem. We all have to live with the mess other people make.

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A hefty fine would certainly make them think again.

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I want to live in a nice, clean environment.

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But people throw rubbish around. They don't care and don't respect where they live.

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From the tonnes of cigarette butts, dogs' mess and household rubbish,

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to mountains of tyres and skiploads of builders' waste.

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It's a constant battle. A constant battle. It's a war.

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It's a war to stop this fly-tipping happening.

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We're on the front line of the clear-up

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and the fight back

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with our dedicated teams tracking down the rogues and putting the "great" back into Britain.

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It may harm your defence if you fail to mention when questioned something you rely on in court.

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On today's programme,

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we're behind the scenes of an incredible investigation by the Environment Agency

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including undercover surveillance, a night-time mission and a tense raid.

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A lot of adrenaline. A lot of stress.

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Fly-tipping on an unbelievable scale.

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This lot included a boat, and not just one, but two aeroplanes!

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This is where we should have the sheep, the cattle, and not all this rubbish being accumulated.

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And the family business that took action after finding this lot on their doorstep.

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The moment we opened them, they were full of dog muck. The smell was revolting.

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What can you say?

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Welcome to the dirty, dirty world of Filthy Rotten Scoundrels.

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Now, let's face it. Most of us have got a car.

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They're part of our everyday lives.

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But how many of us think about what happens to them once their big end goes?

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Well, the scrap industry is big business and a complicated business.

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Every step of the process has to be done properly.

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There are strict rules and regulations and you need environmental permits and licences.

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That is unless you're a recycling rogue who just wants cash to burn.

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Today, we're going behind the scenes with the guys whose job it is to catch the rogues.

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It's an incredible story following every step of the investigation

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including camouflage gear...

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We have to go in covertly, normally one in the morning.

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..secret night-time missions...

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I'm installing one of the cameras.

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It's key I don't get anything wrong and then we have the footage we need.

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..heavy disguise...

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I'm going to dress up as a fisherman, walker.

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..and culminating in a full-blown raid.

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You don't have to say anything, but anything you don't mention... you cannot rely on in court.

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The purpose of this operation is to hit the big, the bad and the ugly.

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And this site is and does fall into that category.

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Meet Michael Griffiths, a rooting-tooting sheriff from the Environment Agency

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who has some polluting pests in his sight.

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This operation is one we started as a result of a large number of complaints

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that thick, black fires are taking place.

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The evidence from the fire brigade who have attended a large number of these fires

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is that the fires are up to 20 metres square at the base.

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Which is a massive fire!

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Michael's involved because he suspects it's waste that's being burned,

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specifically from old cars and lorries once stripped for scrap.

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We believe that the remains are either burned

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or left to wallow in the ground.

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All the pollutants, all the petrol, all the oils, water coolants,

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just dismissed.

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Each of those offences carries an unlimited fine by the courts

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and a maximum five-years imprisonment on each charge.

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So we're not talking minor offences here.

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The aim of this investigation is to painstakingly gather evidence over time

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to try and prove the offences.

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Time to bring out the secret cameras.

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This gives us the opportunity to gather evidence.

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Who's visiting the site? What sort of vehicles are going there?

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What sort of vehicles are leaving the site? How many are being left

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and what's happening to those vehicles?

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Michael has an Aladdin's Cave of gadgets and gizmos

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which he hopes will get him enough evidence of what's going on on this site.

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But even getting them into place requires an incredible undercover operation.

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We have to go in covertly. It's normally one o'clock in the morning.

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We have to be very, very careful. This is a risky site. High risk.

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So what we use is the army camo gear.

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Now can you see how serious this is?

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The Environment Officers have to visit the site in the dead of night, wearing camouflage gear.

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All just to set up some evidence-gathering cameras.

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It's a military-style operation.

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It's D-Day. Well, D-Night, in this case,

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as Mike and his team prepare to fix two cameras,

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one at each end of the site.

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The dangers for my team tonight are getting caught.

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Getting compromised in-situ.

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It's going to be one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning.

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There's also the serious case of dogs.

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We know there are three large Rottweilers loose on site

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and we'll be very close to those dogs.

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Rottweilers? Middle of the night? This isn't a job for the faint-hearted.

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And like any good military operation, Michael briefs the team on what to do.

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Probably they'll synchronise watches!

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We're putting the two cameras in, one east, one west.

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Team One, the Whisky car, you'll put the east one in.

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We'll leave you to sort out your communications.

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My car, the Victor car,

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drop us off at the top and we'll go into the west-hand side

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and put the camera in there. Good luck. Let's go get 'em!

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This is where the adrenaline really kicks in.

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I'll be installing one of the cameras.

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I've done a few of these,

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so I've got all the camera and wires and everything,

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to make sure it all connects up.

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We've got the killer angle so we can see people's faces and registration numbers.

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So it's key that I don't get anything wrong

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and that we get the footage we need to win the case.

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It's wagons roll, as the team disappear into the night.

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When they get to the location, they prepare to jump from a moving car.

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OK, it's a slow-moving car, but they need to avoid being seen by any late-night spectators.

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Clear behind. If there's no vehicles coming when we get over the brow, we're going.

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Let's go.

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And they're out. Within seconds, they're out of sight and en-route to the location.

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Driver Mike parks up at the appointed place and waits.

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I'm set up here, very close to the camera position where the guys are now installing the camera.

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I'm looking here to make sure there are no vehicles that look suspicious approaching that camera location

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while the two guys are in. If something looks a bit off,

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a bit suspect,

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I'll contact them on the radio and alert them of that fact.

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The pick-up call Mike has been waiting for comes in.

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Go, go, go!

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And they're back, cameras set up and ready to roll.

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Off the record, I'm getting too old for this!

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Later on, we'll see what their hidden cameras found

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and if they had enough evidence to raid the site.

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Time now to visit our friends from the north.

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This is Watery Lane in Preston, a place drowning under the problem of fly-tipping.

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We've had mattresses dumped down here.

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Down the road we have everything dumped.

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Anything gets dumped down there cos there's a couple of lay-bys.

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Over here we've had chairs, tables.

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Some of the items that are tipped are unbelievable.

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Changing the bathroom,

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refurbishing the house, all these things. Bathrooms, wardrobes, et cetera.

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Dick Sharples and his nephew Michael own the local timber merchants.

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The company gates are about 100 metres from a junction up this narrow road.

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It's made the lane the perfect spot for a bit of casual fly-tipping.

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Well, a lot, actually.

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All three brothers have been down here over 50 years.

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Over the years, it's got worse, the more dumping that's going on.

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It gets annoying when you turn up. Most dumping happens at the weekend.

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You turn up on a Monday morning with the rubbish down here.

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You don't need it on a Monday morning!

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The problem's often so bad, it blocks the entire lane

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and the guys can't get through their gates.

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It makes is very inconvenient when you and customers can't get into your premises.

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Because these guys think it's quite acceptable

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to tip their rubbish at our gate.

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You're trying to run a business

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and you can't because people are dumping stuff constantly.

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You have to clean it up all the time. We're not here to clean things up.

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Quite right, Michael. This is a family business and you should be concentrating on that,

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not shifting other people's rubbish before you can get through the door.

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We've actually had...

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OK, enough. Even I'm drowning under this!

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Someone pull the plug. That's exactly what the Sharples did.

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CCTV is just above the gate up there.

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It shines straight down. We've got the whole stretch covered.

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Fingers crossed, when people pull up, we have a really good image of them most of the time,

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and reg plates nearly always.

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It's deterred quite a few people

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but there are individuals who, whether they don't realise the cameras are there,

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or aren't concerned the cameras are there, and they carry on tipping.

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So let's take a look at some of these rotters caught in the act.

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Paul Cookson, Environmental Officer, takes up the story.

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The first incident we looked at was the painter's van.

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He reversed the full length of this road, right up to the gates.

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He sort of stopped just around here.

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If you look at the road surface, you can see slight remnants of paint on the floor

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where the lad stopped the van and the paint tin fell out onto the floor.

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Once the lads had got into this location,

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all they had to do was open the back doors.

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The back doors shield them from the main road so nobody can see what the vehicle's doing.

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They're then free to throw their rubbish onto both sides.

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They were quite brazen with it.

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I mean, right behind me you can see the pole with the CCTV camera on it.

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Smile, boys! The cheek of it.

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They even spot the camera and carry on!

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They were quite happy to stand by the back of the van,

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throwing the stuff as far as they could into the woodland on that side.

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On this side, they dropped it over the soil embankment.

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One thing they did was put two wooden fence panels on the side of the road.

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Sheer, stupid laziness.

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Oi, mate, that's my line! But he's right.

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We're not far from the local free dumps.

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Why didn't these rogues just take their stuff there, like good, decent citizens?

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It's causing a massive problem for the timber yard.

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But there's another reason why Paul is particularly annoyed with fly-tippers here.

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There are big plans for the area.

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The reason why it's so annoying to us is we're spending a lot of money developing the left-hand side

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into a nature reserve, and they're throwing pots of paint!

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Paint is a dangerous chemical. There's lots of things that took a lot of time clearing up in there.

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We've got the fence panels and the other stuff on the other side.

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So it was a considerable amount of work we had to do to clean up the mess they created.

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All in all, it's pretty disgraceful.

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The filthy rotters are damaging local businesses

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and harming local wildlife.

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At least we have them bang to rights, yeah?

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We know roughly the age of the van, we know the body style.

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We know it's got four roof bars and glass windows in the back.

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Very, very distinctive.

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Yeah, but you got them, right?

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Unfortunately, we never did manage to identify either the two lads with the van

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or identify the owner of the vehicle.

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How incredibly frustrating they couldn't read the registration on the van.

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But there has been one interesting development.

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Paul and his team found some letters in amongst the dumped rubbish

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with a woman's name and address on them.

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When we went to see her, she admitted she'd had decorating done by two young lads.

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Unfortunately, she wasn't prepared to tell us who they were

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for fear of getting them into trouble.

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She, on the other hand, was happy to take the risk of appearing at court herself

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because she'd allowed her waste to be taken away by unregistered waste carriers.

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She was prosecuted at Preston Magistrates' Court for breach of household duty of care

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and subsequently she was fined £300.

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Ouch!

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A lesson for all of us.

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You need to know who's taking your waste away.

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You can't just pass it on to any Tom, Dick or Harry and cross your fingers.

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But don't think Paul's given up on the fly-tipping criminals.

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No, not for one second!

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To this day I'm still looking for vehicles of that type.

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Either at work or at home. Whatever part of the country I'm in.

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If I see a transit van driving along the road,

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I look at the rear doors to see if I can spot glass panels.

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It's quite an unusual vehicle.

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Eventually they are going to come to our notice

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and if so, they still face the possibility of being prosecuted for fly-tipping.

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Did you hear that, boys?

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Paul will find you!

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Let's take a look at them again.

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Recognise them? If so, get in touch with Paul.

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Later in the programme, Paul follows his nose to track down

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that filthy scoundrel who dumped one stinking mess down this lane.

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The smell was horrendous.

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Each bag contained dog faeces and soiled dog bedding.

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Ready to be transported to another world?

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We're situated between two very important parts of the English countryside here.

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To a peaceful place where the grass is green and the views stretch for miles?

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It's very beautiful and very important to preserve for its character.

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Where the sun shines every day of the year.

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A bit of poetic licence, but bear with me.

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We're on the foothills of The Mendips and the Cheddar Gorge...

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There's even good cheese to be had.

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..which in turn roll down to the Somerset Levels.

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Did you say roll? We could make a whole picnic here!

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Seriously, though, there is a lot to recommend this place.

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Cheddar's a very rural area. Lots of beautiful views

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and tourists come a long distance to see the area. It's a very nice place to live.

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And very nice place to visit.

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Generally, it's quite a happy community.

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It's one of those villages that even though it's fairly big, everyone knows everyone.

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You just look out the window of the car

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and you see all the greenery.

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It's all so peaceful.

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Sounds lovely, doesn't it? I know what you're thinking, though.

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You're expecting me to say the place is being ruined by fly-tipping.

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Don't worry. Haven't you noticed the place is spotless?

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We never come across fly-tipping at all, around this area.

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Not anywhere. We've been out for rides. We don't see it.

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Fly-tipping doesn't usually happen in Cheddar.

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It's not usually a problem for us.

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So no fly-tipping and not even the odd bit of litter?

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It's not even like big things as well, it's like cigarette butts.

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You don't see them thrown on the floor here.

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It's more respectful than that.

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People go out of their way to put it in a bin.

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It's a lot more caring, really.

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Sounds like you could eat your cheese and biscuits off the pavement!

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And that's the way the locals like it.

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They take matters into their own hands.

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They organise semi-annual litter picks where they all go out on a Sunday morning.

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Put on heavy-duty gloves, grab a litter-pick.

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They go out and sweep the entire village, not that there's much to pick up!

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Perfect.

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Sorry, yes, there was something I was going to mention.

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You know that cupboard you have at home?

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The one where you throw everything in, then close the door

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and hope you won't have to open it again?

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Well, just take a look at Cheddar's dirty secret.

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It puts the kitchen cupboard in the shade, doesn't it?

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I can't even begin to count the number of bin bags in here.

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To be fair, I should say this is all on private land,

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inside a private building.

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What the eye doesn't see and all that. But let me take you outside.

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

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I feel one of my lists coming on.

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A van, about half a dozen chairs.

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The obligatory sofa. A dining room table.

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A lot of household waste, plastic containers. Hang on, is that another van?

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Yep, a second van.

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And, of course, no self-respecting fly tip is complete without some old tyres.

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Breathtaking, isn't it?

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And those poor, proud, clean and tidy residents of Cheddar

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happened across this lot while on one of their regular litter-picks.

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You can imagine their shock.

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Not so much as a cigarette butt in the village. Then this.

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It's enough to make you choke on your cheese roll.

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They got straight on to the local council.

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Looking at the site, what was happening was that the owner was starting to use this

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as a combination of a dumping ground and a storage facility.

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So he was storing all these items in the open countryside

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and from our perspective, this is agricultural land.

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This is where we should have sheep, cattle, not a place to have all this rubbish being accumulated.

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Not much room for Old MacDonald in this lot.

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And you haven't seen the half of it.

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Did I mention the boat?

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Unbelievable, isn't it?

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And, wait for it, an entire aeroplane!

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A 1950 Piper PA20 Pacer, unless I'm very much mistaken.

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And just for good measure, the shell of a second plane, too.

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How on earth did anyone get all this into one field

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without anyone else noticing?

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What was happening was that the countryside here was being ruined

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by the actions of the owner of the site.

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For that reason, we had to step in.

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But there was a problem.

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The dump was half a mile from the nearest house.

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Who owned this land?

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If the council couldn't find them,

0:21:470:21:49

they'd have to clear the whole field themselves at taxpayers' expense.

0:21:490:21:54

People in the Cheddar Valley stepped up and said, "Not on our doorstep."

0:21:540:21:58

People have got in touch with me at the Cheddar Valley Gazette and asked could I run some photographs

0:21:580:22:03

and make it known.

0:22:030:22:05

So I gladly did, to be honest.

0:22:060:22:08

Eventually, I'm glad to say, the council did track down the landowner

0:22:080:22:14

and they made him clear up the whole mess.

0:22:140:22:17

So, time for some before and after shots.

0:22:180:22:22

As a newspaper, we've seen some crazy things fly-tipped in our time.

0:22:330:22:37

Mannequins, a perfectly good hoover propped up against the village sign last week.

0:22:370:22:44

But aeroplanes, that was an entirely new thing!

0:22:440:22:48

We have a lot of tourists coming through this part of Somerset as well.

0:22:480:22:53

So they come across these fields on their walks and rambles.

0:22:530:22:56

It's very important to them about what they see and expect to see.

0:22:560:23:00

So keeping the countryside clean and in a suitable condition is important to Sedgemoor.

0:23:000:23:06

Good work all around.

0:23:060:23:08

So, case closed?

0:23:080:23:10

Well, almost.

0:23:100:23:12

Here we are again in 2011, back at the site.

0:23:120:23:15

Looking at it today, just behind the concrete building you can see emerging yet another caravan.

0:23:150:23:22

So from an enforcement perspective, we'll be back here on Monday

0:23:220:23:28

and chasing down the owner to ask why is his caravan back,

0:23:280:23:32

what's he doing and let's restore the countryside to what it is -

0:23:320:23:36

countryside.

0:23:360:23:37

Hear, hear!

0:23:370:23:39

The people of Cheddar don't want more nasty surprises when out on the next litter pick,

0:23:390:23:44

thank you very much!

0:23:440:23:46

Earlier, we saw one of my favourite stories,

0:23:470:23:50

following Michael Griffiths and his team from the Environment Agency

0:23:500:23:54

as they carried out a covert night-time operation

0:23:540:23:57

to set up cameras to monitor a suspicious site.

0:23:570:24:00

They suspect that vehicles are being broken down here

0:24:000:24:04

and what can't be sold as scrap is being burned.

0:24:040:24:06

Not environmentally friendly, and not legal.

0:24:060:24:10

They're planning a full raid on the site, but first they need to find out what to expect.

0:24:100:24:16

Michael's secret squirrel cameras have been spying on vehicles going in and out of the site.

0:24:160:24:21

He's diligently spent all week trailing through a mind-blowing 1,200 hours of video.

0:24:210:24:28

What we're looking for on these videos is the frequency that people have visited the site.

0:24:290:24:36

Who's going to the site? How many times a day are they going to the site?

0:24:360:24:41

How many vehicles are being taken on site that are potentially going to be broken up?

0:24:410:24:46

This place is popular.

0:24:460:24:48

An average of 60 vehicles a day

0:24:520:24:54

are coming and going to the site.

0:24:540:24:57

So what we've got here is an old shipping container.

0:24:570:25:01

The thing about this is, if you see it as it goes past...

0:25:020:25:05

..you can see it's very aged

0:25:070:25:09

but that on the back indicates straightaway

0:25:090:25:13

that it's a refrigerated shipping container.

0:25:130:25:16

So the CFCs in that are massive.

0:25:160:25:19

It really needs de-polluting at a special establishment

0:25:190:25:23

and done properly.

0:25:230:25:25

So when we go in and do the warrant,

0:25:260:25:28

my team will be looking for the remnants of that shipping container.

0:25:280:25:32

We know it went in on a specific date

0:25:320:25:36

and it never came back out.

0:25:360:25:38

The tractor unit that took it in did, but that never did.

0:25:380:25:42

Vehicles going onto a site but not coming out can only mean one of two things.

0:25:440:25:48

Either they're being destroyed, or the yard is located in the Bermuda Triangle.

0:25:480:25:53

Well, as this isn't the Bermuda Triangle,

0:25:530:25:56

Michael suspects they're being broken up.

0:25:560:25:59

He needs evidence that things are being burned on site.

0:26:030:26:06

So it's time to raid the dressing-up box.

0:26:060:26:09

Today, I'm going to dress up as a fisherman, walker.

0:26:100:26:15

I'm going to walk past the front entrance of the site,

0:26:150:26:20

walk along the lane

0:26:200:26:23

with a camera strapped to my back

0:26:230:26:26

and have a look if I can place it anywhere without being seen.

0:26:260:26:31

Fraught with danger.

0:26:320:26:34

I've got a few cover plans in mind.

0:26:340:26:37

If I get stopped and challenged, hopefully they'll believe what I say,

0:26:370:26:43

that I'm a lost fisherman looking for a place to sit.

0:26:430:26:47

If they believe that, they'll believe anything.

0:26:470:26:50

You've got to admire this guy.

0:26:500:26:52

Armed with waders and a walkie-talkie,

0:26:520:26:55

Michael takes steps into the unknown for evidence of burning.

0:26:550:26:58

I'm really apprehensive because on the other side of these woods,

0:27:000:27:04

is a complete unknown.

0:27:040:27:07

I can hear the dogs already.

0:27:070:27:09

Marvellous(!)

0:27:090:27:11

I hope it's not me they've got the scent of.

0:27:130:27:16

You and me, both, Michael.

0:27:160:27:19

A nerve-wracking hour later

0:27:190:27:22

and he's back with a tale to tell.

0:27:220:27:23

I found myself face-to-face with two vehicles.

0:27:230:27:27

One with the suspect in and another guy.

0:27:270:27:31

And one with two other guys in.

0:27:310:27:33

They sort of pinned me in the middle.

0:27:330:27:36

But I came up with a cover story.

0:27:360:27:38

I was from Cambridge doing a survey on the wildlife in the area.

0:27:380:27:44

To which the suspect pointed to a rather large weed

0:27:440:27:50

and said, "What's that called, then?"

0:27:500:27:55

Quick-thinking as I was, I said, "I don't know the actual name of it,

0:27:550:28:02

"but I do know the Latin name.

0:28:020:28:06

"Which is so-and-so so-and-so."

0:28:060:28:10

Which I totally made up!

0:28:100:28:12

And he took it. It was unbelievable!

0:28:120:28:15

Michael, you are what us Latin scholars call, "Vir audax".

0:28:150:28:20

That is a brave and bold man, since you asked.

0:28:200:28:23

But what about the point of the mission? Any evidence of burning?

0:28:230:28:27

I totally searched the area outside the target premises.

0:28:280:28:33

And there was no signs of burning whatsoever.

0:28:350:28:39

So the burning must have taken place inside the perimeter of the premises.

0:28:410:28:48

Ooh, a lot of adrenaline.

0:28:480:28:51

A lot of stress.

0:28:510:28:53

And no result.

0:28:530:28:56

So after all that, Michael is no nearer getting the evidence he needs.

0:28:580:29:01

Time for a bit of help from above.

0:29:010:29:04

Photos from a police helicopter give Michael enough cause for concern

0:29:050:29:09

about what's happening on the site.

0:29:090:29:11

A decision is made. Michael and his team along with the police are going in.

0:29:110:29:16

It's the morning of the raid and Michael is briefing police

0:29:180:29:22

and Environment Agency Officers.

0:29:220:29:24

The plan was, originally, to go and arrest the owner of the site at his home address.

0:29:250:29:31

But we can't 100% house him.

0:29:310:29:35

So the plan is I'm going to serve the warrant.

0:29:350:29:38

I'll control the situation and tell him what I want

0:29:380:29:41

and we'll move all the workers off-site, or make them sit in the caravans.

0:29:410:29:45

Then I've got a team of 12 officers all geared up, ready to come in

0:29:450:29:50

and we'll strip the site. There are dogs on site.

0:29:500:29:54

But I'll try and get the people on the site to control those dogs.

0:29:540:29:58

While we're on site, we may get visitors

0:29:580:30:02

from scrap dealers and people with big wagons bringing scrap in.

0:30:020:30:07

Let them through.

0:30:070:30:09

Let them through. Once they get to the front of the premises,

0:30:090:30:13

myself and Paul will get somebody to deal with it.

0:30:130:30:19

They'll get details of the driver, details of the owner,

0:30:190:30:25

details of what's in that lorry, what's scrap,

0:30:250:30:27

and a prosecution will follow on them as well.

0:30:270:30:30

As the convoy heads off, the pressure is starting to get to Michael.

0:30:360:30:40

This is the culmination of three months of hard work.

0:30:400:30:46

It falls or is a success by what happens today.

0:30:460:30:51

Although we've got the evidence from the cameras,

0:30:510:30:56

we still need the physical evidence today.

0:30:560:30:58

Myself and Paul have been in this situation loads and loads of times.

0:30:580:31:03

You don't get used to it.

0:31:060:31:08

It's exciting. You get an adrenaline buzz but it's very nerve-wracking.

0:31:080:31:13

There's a lot of risks. We don't know how many people are on site.

0:31:130:31:16

That first five or ten minutes you're on edge.

0:31:160:31:19

You don't know how it's going to go. I'm a bit apprehensive.

0:31:190:31:23

Coming up: After months of preparation,

0:31:240:31:27

Michael comes face-to-face with the man who runs this site.

0:31:270:31:31

Apart from the two dogs, is there anything I should know about that will cause a danger?

0:31:310:31:36

Back in Preston, and a particularly memorable dump - if you pardon the pun!

0:31:420:31:46

I turned up for work on a Monday morning. Pulled up, and just down here

0:31:480:31:52

to the floor was a load of bin bags.

0:31:520:31:55

They were full of all sorts of stuff, with a horrible stench coming from them.

0:31:550:32:00

When we opened them up, they were full of dog muck. The smell was revolting.

0:32:000:32:04

You get a horrible smell instantly. It knocks you sick.

0:32:050:32:08

I'll say. I just cannot begin to understand why someone

0:32:080:32:13

would dump bin bags full of dog poo down a country lane.

0:32:130:32:16

The family put in a desperate call to the council.

0:32:160:32:19

When we came down to investigate this,

0:32:200:32:23

we were faced with just the dumping of black bags.

0:32:230:32:27

We come across black bags dumped all the time

0:32:270:32:30

so it's our nature to open the bags

0:32:300:32:32

to look through them to see if we can find any evidence to say where the bags are from.

0:32:320:32:37

Eugh! Don't do it!

0:32:370:32:39

I'm opening the bags. The contents were degraded dog faeces.

0:32:390:32:44

The smell was horrendous.

0:32:440:32:46

Each bag contained dog faeces and soiled dog bedding

0:32:460:32:53

which was ripped up paper that had been spread about in the kennel.

0:32:530:32:56

It's full of urine. It smelt to high heaven!

0:32:560:32:59

Oh, no! How foul is that?

0:32:590:33:02

We had to transport them to our yard where we could open them in our secure yard

0:33:020:33:07

rather than disturb the waste on site and risk polluting the ground here.

0:33:070:33:11

So then the next thing was that the person driving the van

0:33:110:33:15

had to suffer the smell of the bags in the van all the way back to the yard.

0:33:150:33:19

No-one should have to go through that for some filthy rotten scoundrel.

0:33:190:33:25

It makes my stomach churn just hearing about it.

0:33:250:33:28

Luckily, the dirty deed had been captured on camera.

0:33:280:33:31

The chap in the red Defender came from London Road, behind us.

0:33:330:33:37

He went slightly past the junction,

0:33:370:33:40

immediately reversed into the track leading up the builder's yard.

0:33:400:33:44

He came right up to the gates.

0:33:440:33:47

He stopped his vehicle about this point

0:33:470:33:50

and we could see that he opened up the back gates.

0:33:500:33:53

Now, the film showed him going into the back of the vehicle

0:33:530:33:58

and bringing something out and dumping it at this spot.

0:33:580:34:02

Eugh! Hold your nose and avert your eyes.

0:34:020:34:06

Actually, the photographic evidence is so disgusting, I'm not going to show the worst of it.

0:34:060:34:11

Paul was determined to track down the dirty dumper.

0:34:130:34:17

He couldn't make out the car number plate from the CCTV

0:34:170:34:20

so he turned to the police for help.

0:34:200:34:23

They did a broad spectrum search for red Land Rover Defenders of a certain age

0:34:230:34:30

with a certain type of body.

0:34:300:34:31

What the police came up with was better than Paul could have imagined.

0:34:310:34:36

They came back and told us there was just one vehicle

0:34:360:34:40

of that type registered in the Preston area.

0:34:400:34:43

Bingo! What a result!

0:34:430:34:45

And the news just got better.

0:34:450:34:47

The owner of the vehicle lived less than a mile away from this location,

0:34:490:34:53

just on the other side of the riverbank.

0:34:530:34:56

Is that a satisfied smile I detect around your lips, Paul?

0:34:570:35:01

Go on, tell us. What happened when you went to investigate?

0:35:010:35:04

Lo and behold, right outside his address,

0:35:060:35:09

was a V registration red Land Rover Defender

0:35:090:35:14

of exactly the same body and description as the one at the scene.

0:35:140:35:18

This dirty dog was busted.

0:35:180:35:21

He was taken in for interview.

0:35:210:35:23

When he was faced with the CCTV footage showing him dumping the waste,

0:35:230:35:27

he obviously had no alternative but to admit the offence.

0:35:270:35:30

Caught with his pants down.

0:35:300:35:33

Naughty!

0:35:330:35:34

His explanation to us was that his father had warned him to clean out the kennels on one occasion

0:35:340:35:41

and that had resulted in a lot of the bags of waste being stored at the house.

0:35:410:35:46

And he'd been told to get rid of them.

0:35:460:35:48

He drove just onto the other side of the river into a quiet little cul-de-sac

0:35:480:35:54

and threw the bags out of his van

0:35:540:35:56

at the side of the road, hoping that that was it.

0:35:560:35:59

He'd finished his work. He'd completed his task. He wasn't bothered.

0:35:590:36:03

He wasn't bothered what happened with those bags.

0:36:030:36:06

He might not have been, yet the magistrates were.

0:36:060:36:10

The magistrates were not amused with his conduct and fined him £1,000 plus costs.

0:36:110:36:16

-I suppose that's what happens if you...

-(SNIFFS)

-..in your own back yard!

0:36:160:36:20

It sent out a clear message to fly-tippers abusing this lane.

0:36:200:36:24

But Michael's got a message of his own.

0:36:240:36:27

When people are caught fly-tipping, because of the amount of stuff we're getting here,

0:36:280:36:33

I think you should be talking maybe a prison sentence.

0:36:330:36:36

Obviously not a long one, but they are breaking the law.

0:36:360:36:40

They cause us a nuisance so let's cause them a nuisance and maybe lock them up.

0:36:400:36:45

Back now to Michael Griffiths from the Environment Agency,

0:36:460:36:49

on the trail of a gang of polluters who he suspects of breaking up and disposing of vehicles

0:36:490:36:54

with no thought for the environment.

0:36:540:36:57

After months of planning, spying and collecting evidence,

0:36:570:37:00

Michael and his team are planning an audacious raid on the property

0:37:000:37:04

to see just what's been going on.

0:37:040:37:07

DOGS BARK

0:37:140:37:16

I have in my possession a magistrate's warrant

0:37:190:37:23

to search these premises for any evidence

0:37:230:37:27

in relation to Environment Pollution regulations offences.

0:37:270:37:32

They are going to search everywhere on site.

0:37:320:37:34

-Apart from the dogs is there anything I should know about that's a danger?

-No.

0:37:340:37:40

..anything you do not mention when questioned you cannot rely on in court...

0:37:400:37:46

With the suspect arrested and on his way to the police station,

0:37:470:37:51

Michael and his team are free to dig in the dirt and uncover the full extent

0:37:510:37:55

of what's been happening at the yard.

0:37:550:37:58

Bingo! We said we were looking for the burning on site

0:38:190:38:25

but we weren't sure. That's why I had a look

0:38:250:38:28

last week.

0:38:280:38:30

And we couldn't find it. There we go.

0:38:300:38:33

This is where the massive fires were

0:38:330:38:36

and you can see the extent the fires have gone.

0:38:360:38:39

It's even burnt the trees.

0:38:390:38:42

And there we have a fire ready to go.

0:38:420:38:45

No wonder the fires could be seen for miles around.

0:38:450:38:49

That bonfire is the size of a small house.

0:38:490:38:51

Some of the debris on it looks all too familiar.

0:38:510:38:54

During the reviewing of the evidence,

0:38:560:38:59

I made comment of a trailer that came in that was a refrigerated trailer.

0:38:590:39:07

The blue foam is from a refrigeration unit.

0:39:070:39:11

They've brought it in, chopped it up

0:39:110:39:14

and not had any care in the world for any of the environmental issues.

0:39:140:39:18

And there's the evidence.

0:39:180:39:21

The guys on this raid are all experienced officers.

0:39:250:39:28

But even Paul, who helped set up the hidden cameras,

0:39:280:39:32

is staggered by the size of the operation.

0:39:320:39:34

It's big and blatant.

0:39:340:39:36

We go to legit licensed scrap yards and some of them aren't half the size of this.

0:39:360:39:41

This is a full-blown gory operation. It's as bad as it gets.

0:39:410:39:46

All the liquids from the refrigeration, the oil in the engines, the brake fluid,

0:39:460:39:51

the radiators, everything is released to the ground, causing pollution.

0:39:510:39:55

Everything else that's of no value to them, they're setting fire to

0:39:550:39:58

and they're making a fortune out of selling the scrap metal.

0:39:580:40:02

Yeah, this is pretty gory.

0:40:020:40:05

And speaking of gory, those pools of water look an odd colour.

0:40:050:40:10

That's obviously full of radiator coolant.

0:40:120:40:15

You get that semi-fluorescent look to it.

0:40:150:40:18

So the chemicals in that... It looks quite deep.

0:40:180:40:21

They'll just drain straight into the ground.

0:40:210:40:26

I don't think I've seen a site as bad as this for pollutants being everywhere.

0:40:320:40:37

Not really what you'd want flowing into your water supply.

0:40:400:40:44

And there's so much oil on the ground, it looks like a tanker's grounded nearby.

0:40:440:40:49

This is a metal tank we found on site.

0:40:490:40:52

It's full of thick, black, what looks like engine oil.

0:40:520:40:56

There are oil filters floating there as well.

0:40:560:40:59

It's not bonded or anything, not protected.

0:40:590:41:02

I'm trying to get a sample, but it's so thick it's not siphoning out of the tube.

0:41:020:41:07

It'll take a while to get anything out.

0:41:070:41:09

We'll analyse that and get it tested for the oil types

0:41:090:41:13

and any sort of hazardous substances.

0:41:130:41:17

Michael and his team spent all day collecting samples and evidence to be analysed.

0:41:180:41:23

So potentially this land is blighted. It could affect the ground water.

0:41:230:41:28

It could be seeping into the water course that runs along the boundary.

0:41:280:41:34

As well as the chemicals,

0:41:340:41:37

the team finds a vast array of engine parts.

0:41:370:41:40

What we're doing is going through the vehicles that these engines have been removed from.

0:41:410:41:47

We're checking them in terms of the identification numbers

0:41:470:41:50

that are on the engines themselves

0:41:500:41:52

and whether the engines have been de-polluted.

0:41:520:41:55

So when you are dealing with engines, you have to remove all the fluids from the vehicle.

0:41:550:42:01

Strip out the oils, remove the oil filters and so forth.

0:42:010:42:05

We're checking these and these four engines all have oil filters still attached

0:42:050:42:10

which means they haven't been de-polluted so they're potentially a hazardous waste.

0:42:100:42:16

It's taken six months of planning, three government agencies

0:42:190:42:23

and a lot of stress and hard work for Michael.

0:42:230:42:26

But it's been worth it.

0:42:260:42:29

These people think these environment issues are minor offences

0:42:290:42:32

and it's not serious.

0:42:320:42:34

You can see by the state of this site it's a serious offence.

0:42:340:42:39

So as a result, it's fantastic.

0:42:390:42:43

Good news all round.

0:42:430:42:45

But the hard work's not over.

0:42:450:42:48

Now Michael and his team have to work through the evidence

0:42:480:42:51

to see whether they can bring a case to court.

0:42:510:42:53

Every week of the year,

0:42:550:42:58

dedicated teams are working hard across our villages, towns and cities,

0:42:580:43:02

determined to clean up our streets.

0:43:020:43:05

Join us next time, when we'll be chasing down more filthy rotten scoundrels.

0:43:050:43:09

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:270:43:30

This episode goes behindthe scenes of an incredible investigation by the Environment Agency, including undercover surveillance, a night-time mission and a tense raid. Plus the rubbish dump that included a boat and two aeroplanes; and the family business that set up cameras to catch persistent fly-tippers on their land.