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Welsh agency pledges to support waste sector against crooks

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says it will act to ensure legitimate waste firms are not undermined by cowboys.

Chief executive Emyr Roberts (above) has told a conference organised by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management that he wants to work with the industry to achieve the Welsh Government’s ambition of becoming a high recycling nation by 2025 and a zero waste one by 2050.

He said a top priority would be to ensure that “the legitimate waste sector is not undermined by those who operate on the margins of legality.

“As a regulator, we will seek better, smarter regulation that minimises the burdens for business, but does not compromise the protection of people or the environment.”

The regulator would use its enforcement powers to deal with illegal operators, while reducing bureaucracy and excessive costs for legitimate businesses, the conference heard.

Enforcement action should be proportionate to the risk posed, with NRW giving priority to investigations where there is a serious breach of the law or where the environment or people are seriously threatened. A similar approach would be taken to permitting decisions.

Roberts said: “We want to work with the waste sector to deliver the shared goals and outcomes that we all want.

“So, our approach recognises the differing levels of risk. We know that a ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t the most appropriate. 

“We are committed to supporting novel approaches, innovation and learning. We want to encourage quality operators in the market, improve the range of waste facilities in Wales, and drive out those who are operating illegally.

  • The Sentencing Council has introduced new sentencing guidelines for environmental offences after concern that some operators find it cheaper to break the law than follow industry regulations.

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