The Environment Agency has pledged to reduce the number of illegal waste sites by 2% per quarter and curb non-compliance by 5% annually.
The targets are included in the EA’s programme for 2014-16 (file right) and are part of the agency’s effort to tackle waste crime and improve compliance with environmental regulations.
To reduce crime, the agency will primarily focus on high-risk sites with an “intelligence-led approach”, sharing information with other enforcement agencies, including the police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency and local authorities and other regulators.
The EA also said it will work with the UK Border Agency and with regulators in other countries, including the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law, to share intelligence and take action to reduce the illegal export of waste.
The financial benefits of environmental crime will be targetted, for example through confiscation orders. There is also an emphasis on understanding “critical tipping points” that prompt crime, such as currency exchange rates encouraging illegal exports, or market prices making recycling unviable.
To improve compliance the EA will identify critical points in the material transfer chain including information taken from reports mandated in the upcoming Materials Recycling Facilities regulations.
Government funding for all EA activities will grow from £663m in 2013-14 to £678m in 2015-16, the increase mainly for flood defence work.
But the agency noted that the plan had been signed off in February 2014 before the Budget granted an additional £5m to tackle waste crime.
“We are still working to fully understand the benefits that these additional resources will bring and will issue an update to this plan in June 2014,” said the EA.
In a parliamentary written question shadow environment minister Maria Eagle asked resource minister Dan Rogerson how the additional resources would be used and whether they would be reduced in future.
Rogerson replied that ministers had yet to decide: “Depending on how the £5m is to be spent, the EA will review its planning assumptions to determine the impact on its workforce and associated workload.”