Cuts to the Environment Agency (EA) budget threaten its ability to fight waste crime, a leading resource management organisation has said.
The Environmental Services Association was responding to the EA’s Waste Crime Report that said a record number of illegal waste sites had been closed in 2012/13.
Barry Dennis, ESA director general, said the agency uncovered more than 800 new illegal sites every year, many of which had been in operation for more than 12 months.
“The ESA is concerned that every minute that such sites are in operation they will harm the environment, blight local communities and undercut responsible operators,” Dennis said.
“The report points out that illegal waste operators are diverting as much as £1bn per annum away from legitimate businesses and taxpayers.”
The ESA is particularly concerned about landfill tax evasion, which it estimates cost the Treasury £200m a year. Dennis called it “a scandal” and said it was due to “illegal operators deliberately misclassifying waste going to landfill to avoid paying the correct amount of landfill tax”.
“This figure is likely to increase until the Government clamps down on this practice,” he said.
MRW has reported that ESA chairman David Palmer-Jones had called for measures to counter cheats who pass off active waste as inert to undercut legitimate operators. He recommended stricter tests for assessing what is inert or active waste, and a landfill tax escalator for inert wasteof up to £50 per tonne.
- The Environmental Services Association Education Trust (ESAET) has commissoned a study into how the UK can tackle rising levels of waste crime. It will assess the scale of such crime and evaluate its impacts on business, local communities, public finance and the environment. The results will be published in the New Year.