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Sepa plans drone use to eradicate waste crime

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) aims to eradicate waste crime as part of its latest resources strategy.

Launched at the Scottish Resources Conference, the Waste to Resources Framework also pledges to tackle the country’s low compliance for waste activities, promote resource efficiency with businesses and maximise value from resources.

It says the regulator will innovate in its method of tackling waste crime, including the use of tracking devices, satellites and drones to better identify illegal waste movements and disposal sites.

The strategy says that Sepa will “design robust prevention-based solutions” to waste crime, and share intelligence with other agencies to scrutinise people with a history of other criminal behaviour, because it believes such people are more likely to offend in the waste industry.

Sepa’s strategy tries to offer support to waste management firms as well as punishing them for non-compliance.

It says: “Waste management facilities have disproportionately lower compliance records and more enforcement action is taken in the waste regime than in any other environmental sector.

“We will use the new integrated authorisation framework and enforcement tools to support those we regulate to meet their obligations more quickly, and target our efforts where they will make the biggest difference.”

The plan says the agency will use its “regulatory influences” to encourage businesses to displace the virgin raw materials they currently use with secondary materials and pilot new technologies and techniques.

It will also encourage businesses to reduce and segregate waste.

Sepa says it will report on specific performance measures to demonstrate progress and allow others to hold it to account.

Chief executive Terry A’hearn said: “Unlocking the value of material resources in our economy is crucial to bring about the radical step change needed to build a more sustainable Scotland.

“We will work with forward-thinking businesses to raise awareness of the value which waste materials have and, ultimately, help businesses to turn waste into profit.

“At this point in our journey, it is not a choice between driving resource efficiency, preventing harm or tackling crime – we must do it all and do it together.”

The latest plan builds on the agency’s broader Regulatory Strategy, which was published in August.

It was granted new powers by the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act in 2014, such as the ability to issue fixed and variable monetary penalties.

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