Ahead of the Government’s spending review this week, waste and recycling trade bodies have united to urge protection of funding to tackle waste crime.
In a letter to resource minister Lord de Mauley seen by MRW, the Environmental Services Association, the Resource Association, the Renewable Energy Association and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management stated: “Public funding to tackle waste crime must not be a casualty of the imminent spending review.”
The review for 2015-16 is taking place on Wednesday (26 June). Lord de Mauley recently told MRW the review will contain “no surprises” for the industry: “Everybody knows, and has known for a long time, that times are hard and this Government was going to bear down hard on the deficit.”
The industry trade bodies wrote: “We recognise that public spending must fall and that all the ‘non-protected’ areas of spending, including those that affect environmental issues, are likely to be affected.” The group noted that Defra received some of the sharpest departmental budget cuts in the last spending review.
But the group said that taxpayers’ money given to Defra, the Environment Agency (EA) and local authorities to tackle waste crime must not suffer spending reductions by Defra.
The letter continued: “The damage inflicted by waste crime is huge – from the fly-tipping which blights local neighbourhoods, to the organised crime which subverts environmental regulations for illegal profit through activities such as exporting hazardous waste abroad. Waste crime harms the environment, defrauds Revenue & Customs and undermines the economics of the legitimate resource management industry.”
The group said it would be “a great mistake” to cut funding in this area because the EA “is currently identifying new illegal waste sites more rapidly than it can prosecute and close down existing ones”.
“Our sector is at the heart of the Government’s green growth agenda, turning waste into economic resources and growing at 3-4% a year,” the group added.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of tackling waste crime. We will continue to work with the Environment Agency to maximise our combined efforts.”