A DODGY businessman who netted millions by dumping mountains of tyres across the country has been told to pay back just £122.

Prosecutors launched a proceeds of crime investigation after Carl Steele, 33, was jailed for dumping more than one million tyres in Battlesbridge and four other sites across the UK.

Steele’s environmentally-unfriendly activities set the record for the number of tyres dumped by a single person in the UK.

He blighted land at Mayhill Industrial Estate, Battlesbridge, by dumping 29,000 tyres – more than 189 tonnes – just 20m from the protected River Crouch.

A proceeds of crime hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was told Steele made £2.5million from his crimes. He would have been paid by companies and individuals to remove their tyres and dispose of them safely, but instead he just left them to rot.

But Steele, whose firm FCM Logistics (Tyres) in Lincoln-shire, has now ceased trading, will have to pay back just £122 after the hearing was told the small sum in a bank account was now his only “available asset”.

Wickford resident Peter Steward, from the Crouch Conservation Trust, has spent hundreds of hours fishing flytipped tyres out of the River Crouch.

He said: “Dumping tyres, whether it’s in a river or on land, causes major pollution.

“He’s certainly been illegally dumping an enormous number of tyres, and I’m over the moon the Environment Agency is taking this crime seriously.

“However, it’s absolutely ridiculous they can only get such a small amount of money back. They need to investigate it further to find out where all the money has gone.”

It is thought Steele leased land on the industrial estate in Battlesbridge on the pretence of being a tractor tyre importer. However, once the tyres were stockpiled on the land he simply fled.

The owner of the land will now have to foot the bill to remove the tyres.

Steele also dumped tyres in Norfolk, Yorkshire, Worcester-shire and Lincolnshire. Steele, who lives in Lincolnshire, has already been released on licence from the 15-month prison sentence passed on him in November after he admitted six charges relating to the illegal storage and treatment of waste tyres between 2009 and 2011.

Under law, tyres must be recycled if they can’t be reused.

The Environment Agency says people should be aware of anyone offering to take tyres away for less than 50p each.

The owner of the land, who did not want to be named, said: “There are thousands of tyres – they have been there for about a year now.

“We will be considering whether we will be taking any action in light of what has happened and will be looking at our options.”