Criminal Waste

Illegal waste operators costing UK £1 billion a year

Bulldozer and rubbish garbage tip dump landfill

The amount of illegal waste sites being discovered is on the rise according to the Environmental Agency, costing the UK economy more than £1 billion a year.

Between April 2015 and March 2015 more than 1,000 sites were discovered without a legal permit.

This represents an increase of around 82 per cent from 2013-2014.

Only last month a fire broke out and completely destroyed a warehouse in Nottinghamshire that was storing waste illegally.

Although the fire started more than two weeks ago, smoke is still said to be rising from the wreckage of the building.

In response to the increase in illegal sites, the Environmental Agency was given extra powers and £4.2 million in order to clamp down on new waste sites in 2015.

If illegal sites are discovered, landowners can also be held responsible for the illegal activity, meaning that they are also liable for any clean-up costs incurred.

Peter, Haslock, enforcement team leader at the Environmental Agency said:

There are rogue waste operators, who hire land or share buildings and will fill with waste and then disappear leaving an environmental problem for the landowner of the property.

“It’s really important that the landlord know who they are dealing with [as they] will have to pay for the disposal of the waste if we cannot trace the people who have deposited it.”

“The costs of the clean-up can be considerable depending on the type of waste.”

Despite a rise in the number of illegal sites, the report published by the Environmental Agency also highlights a number of positives from the waste industry.

Between 2014 and 2015 the number of permitted waste facilities increased by two per cent while serious pollution incidents caused by permitted sites decreased by 36 per cent and poorly performing sites fell by 20 per cent.

Additionally, persistently poorly performing sites fell by six per cent and sites of high public interest fell by 53 per cent.

The Environmental Agency has a target to stop illegal activity at 45 per cent of newly discovered illegal waste sites within 90 days. Between 2015 and 2016 the agency exceeded the target by more than 5 per cent.

If convicted in the magistrates court, the maximum punishment for operating an illegal waste site is 12 months imprisonment and or a fine £50,000.

A crown court could run the sentence up to a five year imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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