The Environment Agency has asked landowners, businesses and members of the public in the West Midlands to be vigilant following a reported increase in illegally dumped waste on private and public land over the last 12 months.
Lisa Pinney, Environment Agency area manager for West Midlands, said: “It’s crucial that all businesses understand their duty of care responsibilities for the waste they produce, who they allow to transport it and ultimately where it goes.”Fly-tipping of waste is usually the responsibility of the local authority, however the Environment Agency becomes involved if the waste is more than 20 tonnes or if there are links to organised crime or criminal business activity.
“Too often, when these responsibilities are misunderstood or ignored, we see the impact of waste crime where waste is deliberately dumped on land with no permit. This can cause serious pollution, put communities at risk and undermines legitimate businesses that are doing the right thing. And even if the landowner has no involvement, legally they may still be responsible for that waste and that could mean a large clear up bill.”
Through the Government Spending Review 2015, the Environment Agency secured additional funding to tackle waste crime in England, up to March 2020. According to the Agency this be used to target ‘priority areas’ across the country.
A Disruption and Prevention Team has also been established as part of the Agency’s National Enforcement Service, to find new approaches to stop waste crime from occurring.
These include working in partnership with law enforcement agencies, HMRC, DVLA and Companies House, and using techniques to trace vehicles and waste.
As well as issuing warnings in the West Midlands, Environment Agency officers have also alerted farmers in Lincolnshire of the threat of a scam involving the illegal disposal of waste.
The warning comes after the Agency’s environmental crime dealt with two incidents in the region where farmers have been approached and asked if they want tarmac road planings that can be used to repair roads and farmyards on their land – only to find bales of residual waste dumped on their land. The incidents involved more than 2,500 tonnes of waste.
Peter Stark, the Agency’s senior enforcement officer, said: “Criminals operating in and around the waste industry can be very convincing and persuasive, sometimes offering thousands of pounds in cash up front. Don’t be tempted by quick money, you could end up with an environmental risk, flies, polluting liquids running out of bales of waste and even fire risks alongside the massive disposal bill.
“We will investigate these two illegal waste incidents fully and take enforcement action if we can. However these farmers and landowners may have to pay significant sums to remove the waste legally. Waste crime is a serious issue diverting as much as £1 billion per annum from legitimate business and treasury.
“Although these specific incidents occurred in Lincolnshire, we would not be surprised if this scam was attempted in neighbouring counties due to convenient transport links.”
Article originally published on www.letsrecycle.com on 5th April 2017