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'Limited resources' pose enforcement challenge

Challenges faced by agencies tackling waste crime have been outlined in a briefing by the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology.

It is unclear how some waste legislation, such as measures to tackle illegal exports, will be transferred into UK law upon leaving the EU, the document says.

As an example, EU Regulation 103/2006 currently implements the Basel Convention of 1992 which renders waste shipments from OECD to non-OECD countries illegal.

The briefing says illegal waste shipments from the UK are among the highest reported by member states. It says it is difficult for border forces to catch and prosecute such shipments and fines imposed are generally low.

Agencies are unable to check every container shipped from the UK each year, amounting to 15 million tonnes of material, and this can be exacerbated by difficulties in distinguishing between waste electronics and working electronic goods, it says.

As for the regulation, “it is unclear how the UK will transfer this into UK law upon leaving the EU”.

The briefing also raises the challenge for regulators to tackle illegal waste sites in the UK, partly due to “limited resources”.

“Satellites can be used in detection and can provide evidence for prosecution. However, resources on the ground are still required to shut sites down and take criminals to court.”

It also says there is a low barrier to entry for waste operators to be awarded permits.

The briefing appears to quote new statistics when it says “In 2015-16, fly-tipping cost local authorities in England over £60m in clean-up costs and enforcement actions.”

Defra has confirmed this is refers to £50m clearance costs and £17.6m enforcement costs in 2014-15.

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