Environment Agency (EA) enforcement teams visited 21 sites across the Thames Valley this week (Wednesday 16 November) in a bid to stamp out waste crime. Of those visited, 6 were found to be operating illegally.
Enforcement officers paid unannounced visits to sites suspected of operating in the waste business without the required environmental permits, flouting the law and committing crime.
A number of other sites had responded to previous advice from the EA officers and stopped their illegal activities.
Illegal waste sites can pose a threat to the environment by contaminating land and rivers with oil and chemicals. Illegal waste operators also undermine the work of legitimate waste companies creating an unfair playing field for business. Huge sums of money can be made by illegally stockpiling, burning and burying waste instead of paying for lawful disposal, blighting communities with smoke fumes and causing noise and odour.
“We are really pleased with what we have achieved today. The information we have gathered will be used in our ongoing work to close more sites down and protect local communities.”
Helen Page, enforcement team leader at the EA said: “We take waste crime very seriously. Visits on a day of action is just one of the ways we are tackling illegal waste sites. We continually use reports from industry and the public to build intelligence and target our work at those involved in organised environmental crime and where their activities pose the greatest risk to the environment.
“We are really pleased with what we have achieved today. The information we have gathered will be used in our ongoing work to close more sites down and protect local communities.
“Everyone can do their bit to reduce waste crime by making sure that any waste for disposal is collected by a licenced waste carrier and taken to a properly permitted, legitimate waste site. Ultimately, we want to make sure the right waste goes to the right place.”
The EA takes a wide range of action against the operators of illegal waste sites depending upon the nature of the illegal activities and the history of the offender. Where appropriate, they will prosecute offenders.
Operating an illegal waste site can result in unlimited fines and up to 5 years imprisonment. Other penalties, which can be sanctioned by the courts, include disqualification as a director, seizure of vehicles, disqualification from driving and community service.
The EA will also use the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover any monies generated as a result of the illegal activity. This can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.