“Not only that, but they also pose a risk to wildlife and people, spoil the quality of life of those living nearby and undermine legitimate waste management businesses. Over the past few years, the Environment Agency has made great steps to tackle the problem and we are continuing to step up our efforts.”
An illegal waste site is one without an appropriate permit for the deposit, treatment, storage or disposal of multiple loads of waste and where the activity is (or appears to us to be) taking place in an organised manner. The landowner or legal occupier generally knows about the activities at the site (but not always) and the operation is often run as a business.
The Environment Agency’s focus has now shifted to tackling those sites that pose a higher risk to the environment. However it faces a number of challenges in tackling them – for example, enforcement can be a costly, complex and lengthy process. New sites are opening all the time and the work can involve dealing with organised criminals who are often involved in other serious crimes.
Lord Smith continued: “Preventing and prosecuting unlicensed waste sites is not just a role for the Environment Agency. Other bodies like local authorities, the police and the DVLA also have a part to play in ensuring everyone is playing by the rules. Waste producers also need to ensure that the waste they produce is passed to registered waste carriers and ends up at licensed facilities.
“So the message from the Environment Agency is clear – there is no hiding place for illegal waste operators. Our enforcement officers are watching and we will take every step possible to protect the environment and bring offenders to justice.”
Businesses and householders have a duty of care to ensure they hand their waste to an Environment Agency registered waste carrier.