Fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping offences are on the way in a raft of legal changes following a Government consultation in February on tackling waste management offences.
The consultation, which drew 112 responses, also sought views on tackling what the Government called “entrenched poor performance in the waste management sector”.
Defra said a large majority of respondents agreed that the introduction of fixed penalty notices would help to tackle the problem of fly-tipping and it would therefore introduce these “at the earliest opportunity”.
Regulators’ powers will be beefed up to allow recovery of costs for investigations and remedial work to prevent or remedy pollution caused by the waste disposal on land.
But ministers have dropped the idea of a national scheme to fund the clean-up of abandoned or orphaned waste management sites, and will instead seek to reduce opportunities for abandonment.
Based on the consultation results, ministers also plan to enable regulators to:
- Suspend a permit where an operator has breached their permit and there is a resulting risk of pollution
- Specify in a suspension notice the steps that must be taken by the operator to remedy the breach of a permit and remove the risk of pollution; and require the operator to erect signage which informs the public about waste that cannot be brought to the facility
- Take steps to prohibit access to a facility
- Remove a risk of serious pollution, regardless of whether the facility affected is regulated under a permit
- More easily apply to the High Court for an injunction to enforce compliance with an enforcement or other notice, and widen regulators’ ability to require the removal of waste from land where it is unlawfully kept
There was strong support for better enshrining the ‘operator competence test’ in legislation, although ministers will consult further on this and on the application of technical competence to all types of waste management operations.
A majority of respondents opposed a proposed requirement for site management plans to be embodied in legislation and the Government will not pursue this.
Defra and the Welsh Government have now published a joint response to the consultation.
Welsh natural resources minister Carl Sargeant said: “Through these changes, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will be able to take effective, quicker and more targeted enforcement action against those who repeatedly flout the law.
“Improving the powers of the regulator will help to resolve some of these issues but NRW cannot deliver improvements in isolation. We all have a duty of care and responsibility to ensure that the waste we generate is dealt with properly to prevent it causing a problem for our communities now and in the future.
“The Welsh Government expects public bodies, businesses and citizens to fully meet their obligations in waste legislation and to improve and strengthen, where possible, their current arrangements to prevent waste where possible and to manage their waste when it arises.”