In a case brought by Surrey County Council, Daniel Hill, 36, was convicted by a jury after piles of waste were repeatedly tipped at a site in Pirbright next to a nature conservation area.
The entrepreneur (pictured right), who appeared in the digital TV auction series Storage Hunters UK and styled himself an upcycling expert for another series titled the New Reclaimers, is expected to be sentenced in April next year.
The county council, which has spent £60,000 prosecuting Hill, will now carry out an investigation to find out if he benefited financially from his crimes and recover any proceeds. Lawyers for the council will also ask the court for Hill to pick up the authority’s legal costs.
Mike Goodman, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste, said: “Here we are trying to protect the beautiful Surrey countryside and we are having to spend tens of thousands of pounds prosecuting a TV celebrity for illegally dumping rubbish on green belt land when vital services are under huge financial pressure.”
The site in Grange Road is next to the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, which is home to many rare species of birds, plants and animals. No planning permission is in place for the use of the land for disposing of rubbish.
The two-acre site, which is designated as agricultural land, is owned by Hill’s father Robin Hill, who lives in the Philippines.
County council planning officers issued an enforcement notice in 2015 requiring an immediate end to the unauthorised dumping of waste on the land and that all rubbish be removed by January 2016.
Planning officers continued to check the site and after it became apparent that, far from stopping, the illegal dumping was getting worse they took Daniel Hill to court. They described the site as “resembling an open mixed landfill”.
Rubbish dumped at the site was mainly building waste – such as rubble, bricks and concrete – but has also included tyres, timber, household waste, sofas, carpets, glass, fuel oil and gas canisters.
Hill argued he was simply a “go-between” for his father with no control over the site but the county council produced evidence that he managed the land.
Following a week-long trial at Guildford Crown Court, Daniel Hill, of St Paul’s Road South, Wisbech, Norfolk, was found guilty by majority verdict on Monday 10 December.
He had pleaded not guilty but was convicted of an offence under planning law, that between 22 November 2015 and 14 November 2016 he caused or permitted an activity to continue despite an enforcement notice requiring it to stop.
The county council will continue monitoring the site to make sure that all waste is removed.