Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has taken another step forward in the fight to tackle waste crime as he announces a “comprehensive review” to “beef up” the government’s approach.
More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the Environment Agency in 2016-17, while an average of two illegal waste sites are shut down every day.
Waste criminals act illegally to evade landfill tax, operating illegal waste sites, exporting waste illegally and fly-tipping. This activity blights communities, causing odours, fly infestations and fires, government says. It also costs the English economy more than £600 million in 2015.
The review announced is the next step in the government’s ongoing work to tackle waste crime, which is already a serious offence with tough penalties. A Call for Evidence has been launched and will enable a wide group of people to have their say on ways to crack-down further on Organised Crime Groups (OCGs), who profit from waste crime.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said:
“Organised criminals running illegal waste dumps and fly-tipping are blighting local communities. They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.”
“We must crack-down on these criminals who have no regard for the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.”
The review will:
• Consider the types of crimes being committed and organised crime groups involved;
• Consider the environmental, community and economic impacts of serious and organised waste crime;
• Consider how the Environment Agency, other organisations, and the law enforcement system can work together to tackle the threat;
• Make recommendations for a strategic approach to serious and organised waste crime.
A study by the Home Office suggests that criminals may also use waste management activities such as operating illegal waste sites as a cover for crimes such as theft, human trafficking, fraud, drugs supply, firearms supply and money laundering.
Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, said:
“Organised crime groups exploit any opportunity to make money. Our local communities are being scarred by the illegal dumping of waste, while at the same time people are being conned into placing contracts with dodgy waste firms.”
“We are committed to ending this scourge and I look forward to exploring what more Defra, local authorities, the private sector and police can do on this issue.”
Since 2014, the government has given the Environment Agency an extra £60million towards enforcement work to tackle waste crime. This extra investment has shown a return of about £5 for every £1 extra spent.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:
“Last year, we closed down two illegal wastes sites a day and were granted new powers to complement our existing enforcement efforts. Our officers are also out in communities, preventing and disrupting criminals through our intelligence led investigations, and also dealing with the consequences of illegally dumped waste to the environment and the wider community.”
“We welcome the opportunity to review how best we deploy our resources and strengthen ties across government and with the police to target organised criminal rings behind illegal waste operations, and bring perpetrators to justice.”
The review is due to be completed by September 2018.
Householders can check if a waste carrier is an approved carrier on the Environment Agency website.
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