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EA gets tough on unlicensed waste operators

In its fight to crack down on those who operate illegal waste sites, the Environment Agency will use more sophisticated detective techniques including forensics, handwriting experts, crime mapping and legal powers.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said that those who operate illegal waste sites as a criminal activity were getting more sophisticated and said the EA needs to step up our efforts to tackle the criminals.

The EA Board met on September 17 to discuss the issue of cracking down on unlicensed waste operators.

EA chairman Lord Chris Smith said: Operating illegal waste sites is a criminal offence and their activities can result in serious pollution of our environment. 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 EA 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 taking place in an organised manner.

New illegal waste sites are springing into operation all the time. The EA spokeswoman said that there is some evidence that rising costs and standards of legitimate disposal, including landfill sites, has led to increases in waste crime. For example, a recent report commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs into the causes, incentives and solutions of fly-tipping flagged up rising landfill costs as one of the incentives, along with limited access and availability of legitimate local recovery and disposal sites. These same reasons will increase the level of illegally operating sites, said the EA spokeswoman.

Lord Smith added: So the message from the EA 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.

 Image: EA chairman Lord Chris Smith

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