The number of people sent to prison for serious waste crime offences has risen but enforcers have also recorded an increase in illegal waste sites, a new report reveals.
Sixteen people were jailed last year for major waste crimes including running large-scale illegal waste sites and industrial-scale dumping; nearly three times the number of in 2009 when just six offenders were sent to prison.
Andrew Higham, who heads the agency’s national environmental crime team said: “We’ve stepped up the fight and are increasingly seeing waste offenders being made to pay for their crimes.
“But we are not complacent and there is more to do particularly around cracking down on illegal waste sites. Our new Taskforce will help us break this cycle.
“However, we can’t do it on our own. We need everyone to play their part in helping to tackle waste crime.”
The report, Cracking down on waste crime, said some 335 individuals and companies were prosecuted in 2011 for waste offences.
Among them was businessman Carl Steele who dumped more than one million tyres across England, causing environmental damage and undercutting legitimate tyre recyclers.
The report also said:
- A number of challenges remain including a rise in the number of serious incidents related to the dumping of construction and demolition waste
- More than 750 large-scale illegal waste sites were shut down in the past year but the number of sites detected has continued to grow because of increased intelligence developed by new £5m Illegal Waste Sites Taskforce
- Last year, the courts handed out £1.7m in fines for serious waste offences – nearly £800,000 more than the previous year
- The highest single fine issued in 2011 was £170,000 – three-and-a-half times more than the biggest fine served in 2010
- The courts also ordered a total £2.2m-worth of assets to be confiscated from criminals who had made money through illegal waste activity
- Among the 26 Proceeds of Crime Act prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency in 2011 was a court order against a Berkshire businessman who ran an illegal waste company to pay back over £800,000
- The Environment Agency has 132 waste-related financial investigations ongoing
As well as asking to see a skip hire company’s registration certificate, people can report waste crime to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.