Rampant Newcastle firestarter admits ‘I just like to light fires’ as he is brought to justice

The man pleaded guilty to disposing of controlled waste in a way that was likely to cause pollution or harm

Damage caused by Mr Burn Damage caused by Mr Burn
Damage caused by Mr Burn

A twisted fire-starter named Burn is counting the cost after being fined for torching fridges and freezers.

Caught with evidence of his bonfires and illegal, toxic disposal of old appliances, Peter Burn, 48, told officers he “just liked to light fires.”

Burn pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed waste facility and disposing of controlled waste in a way that was likely to cause pollution or harm to human health on December 17.

Following a complaint, environmental protection officers visited a house on Warren Avenue in Walkergate on November 12.

In the back garden they found refrigeration units, freezers and fridge-freezers stacked up against the fence as well as evidence of their dismantling and a large, scorched area of grass, lined with stones, containing ash and remnants of metal.

Under caution, the householder, Burn, told officers he “liked to light fires” and had been collecting appliances using a wheelbarrow, stripping the gas bottles, metals and plastics from them, selling the scrap and burning the remains.

He said he had been doing it for a period of six months and just the previous week, to mark Bonfire Night, had set fire to two large fridge-freezers.

He also admitted he had no authorisations from the Environment Agency to dispose of controlled waste.

Cllr Linda Hobson, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet member for housing and regulatory services, said: “This is far from a harmless hobby.

“By his own admission Burn had repeatedly and deliberately illegally disposed of hazardous waste, something that not only put his own health at risk, but also that of everyone around him.

‘Far from a harmless hobby'‘Far from a harmless hobby'
‘Far from a harmless hobby'

“His choice to be a toxic neighbour, to make just a few pounds from scrap metal and fulfil his unhealthy desire to start fires, showed complete disregard for both his community and the environment.

“It is again positive to see the courts taking such a dim view of such indiscriminate, damaging enviro-crime and I hope it will act as a warning and deterrent to others that we will not hesitate to take action against those who would blight Newcastle.”

Recycling fridges and freezers requires several permits and permissions, along with specialised technical equipment housed in an indoor facility, to prevent the gases they contain from escaping into the atmosphere.

Fridges and freezers are considered hazardous waste under UK law as they have potent greenhouse gases harmful to the environment and contribute to global warming.

Solicitor Mark Humble, in mitigation, told the court that Burn recognised what he had done was wrong, that he would not do it again and that he had apologised to his neighbours.

Burn was fined £480, and ordered to pay £348.90 in costs, with a £34 victim surcharge – A total of £869.90.