Cross-border waste crime is being tackled in a three-day campaign involving agencies from England and Scotland.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is co-ordinating activities during Operation Nortese on 17-19 May, including site inspections, roadside stops and port checks, in collaboration with the Environment Agency (EA), Police Scotland, the British Transport Police, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency.
The operation forms part of Sepa’s Life Smart project to improve intelligence-gathering between European agencies and identify criminal enterprises which seek to exploit the industry.
Terry A’Hearn, Sepa chief executive, said: “The days of action are specifically designed to help us identify the scale of illicit waste transport in Scotland and pilot a series of practical approaches which will improve our ability to tackle the issue.
“They will also carry the message that compliance [with legislation] is not optional, and that our grip is always tightening on the pathways which criminal elements continue to use.”
A’Hearn added that a multi-agency approach was vital and lessons learned would ensure that cross-border waste crime was tackled effectively.
As part of the exercise, vehicles and waste operations will be targeted across northern England, the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, while investigations may require co-ordination with agencies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Dave Edwardson, enforcement team leader at the EA, said: “Officers will be taking this opportunity to gather important intelligence about the movement of waste across the border. This multi-agency approach will allow us to investigate the extent of waste activity and help us to focus our resources in the right places.”
Deputy chief constable Ruaraidh Nicolson, responsible for crime and operational support at Police Scotland, said: “We will robustly reinforce the legal responsibilities incumbent upon companies operating in the waste industry whenever any wrongdoing is detected.”
Sepa has distributed a leaflet to almost 8,000 registered waste carriers and brokers to remind them of their responsibilities and where to gain further advice on compliance.