Landscape gardener’s police caution for logs ‘silly’

Sean Harper of Walkley and the branches he was carrying in  his van
Sean Harper of Walkley and the branches he was carrying in his van
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A LANDSCAPE gardener was cautioned for driving home with two logs to burn in his garden chiminea – because his vehicle did not have a licence for transporting waste.

Sean Harper, aged 32, was warned after his vehicle was pulled over during a random spot-check carried out by around 20 police and council officials on Broughton Lane.

The two logs, around six feet long and five inches in diameter, plus some smaller branches, had been left in the van to dry out so they could be chopped up and burned.

Mr Harper, who runs Sharper Spaces gardening firm, and also works for Sheffield YMCA, said: “The issue was not the volume of wood but that it was classed as ‘waste’ because I had taken it away from someone’s house where I had done a pruning job in a commercial vehicle.

“The funny thing was the official who spoke to me said that, had the wood been broken into chippings, there would not have been a problem as it would have been classed as a product rather than waste.

“But people spend money buying logs such as the ones I was carrying, so they could have been classed as a product, too.

“The officer replied that, under the circumstances, the law was a grey area but issued me with a caution. The case will be held on record so, if I am caught again, I will face a harsher punishment.

“I was encouraged to buy a waste carrier’s licence. What he was doing seemed to be an excuse to sell me something.”

Mr Harper said: “I’d just left the wood in the van for a couple of weeks to dry out, as you are supposed to, before burning it in the chiminea on my decking at home. The whole thing was complete overkill and seems silly.”

Mark Parry, environmental enforcement team manager at Sheffield Council, said: “In this case, the trader admitted he had taken waste from a customer and intended to dispose of it himself.

“Anyone carrying waste that is not their own and as part of as business must be authorised to do so with a Waste Carrier’s Licence, unless an exemption applies.

“It wasn’t clear whether the exemption applied in this case.

“We certainly haven’t been heavy handed. We simply gave informal advice that he may need to look into obtaining a licence for the future.

“The trader was provided with an application form and details of where to seek advice about the exemption.”