The Environment Agency (EA) has carried out a day of police investigations to disrupt illegal waste activities and raise awareness in the industry.
The day of action (18 June), Operation Cyclone, involved police stopping and searching vehicles as well as visiting waste sites to crack down on the supply of waste to illegal sites. They were also gathering intelligence and encouraging people to report waste crime.
The EA worked in partnership with the police, Road Haulage Association, Association of British Insurers, Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA) and Crimestoppers to carry out the operation.
An EA spokesperson told MRW the agency had over 100 officers out on the day, and said it had visited in excess of 50 sites to collect evidence or intelligence, or to talk to business owners.
Over 60 vehicles stopped and searched. At least one vehicle was seized by police. Several prohibition notices issued by VOSA. Local Authorities also fixed penalty notices for duty of care offences and the EA identified several waste carrier offences. One waste carrier suspected of carrying materials with asbestos in them was interviewed under caution at the roadside.
The spokesperson added: “A handful of other illegal sites were identified. Additional information has been gathered as part of ongoing investigations and wider work to tackle waste crime.”
Steve Townhill, EA Taskforce Manager, said: “Waste crime undermines legitimate business, can cause harm to environment and misery for local people.”
The operation is part of an ongoing focus on preventing criminal waste operations which began at the end of 2011 with the creation of a national taskforce.
The EA said that there are over 800 illegal waste sites operating throughout England and Wales, causing bad smells, chemical spills, damaging the landscape and affecting the surrounding communities. Some sites hold hazardous waste illegally and can pose a threat to the environment and human health.
In 2011-2012 the EA issued 139 formal cautions relating to waste crime and made 300 successful prosecutions resulting in fines of over £1.6m.
- The EA’s hotline for people with information on illegal waste activity is 0800 80 70 60, or Crimestoppers is 0800 555 111
- The EA’s advice and guidance line to help ensure waste is handled correctly is 03708 506 506