Treasury minister Robert Jenrick has warned MPs of “increasing evidence” of illegal landfill sites being associated with serious organised crime.
A House of Commons committee, set up to examine legislation to extend landfill tax liability to illegal waste dumps, heard that a consequence of the tax was an increase in criminals undercutting legitimate businesses by dumping waste illegally.
Jenrick said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that a minority of those sites are a direct consequence of organised crime, which appears to have infiltrated the waste industry.
“At its most serious, those criminals are linked to other concerning areas of criminality, including the drugs trade.”
He added that while he had no specific evidence, this was the view he had heard from law enforcement officers across the country.
Jenrick was asked by Labour/Co-Op MP Jonathan Reynolds whether the Treasury had researched the prevalence of money laundering in the waste sector because it is a high-volume business involving large amounts of cash. Jenrick said the serious organised crime link included money laundering.
In 2017-19, the Environment Agency (EA) successfully prosecuted for waste crime on 93 occasions. This resulted in fined totalling more than £380,000 and 17 prison sentences.
The EA was granted £30m in last year’s Budget in order to tackle waste crime.
Jenrick added: “We want to see much more aggressive enforcement by the EA, and rogue individuals and criminals brought to book.”