Three men have been arrested following an Environment Agency investigation into a “highly organised criminal scam” involving waste disguised as bales of hay dumped on farmland.
The agency and police raided a site at Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire last week to discover around 1,500 bundles of household and business waste illegally dumped on open land and camouflaged as plastic-wrapped hay bales.
The men were arrested on “suspicion of depositing and storing waste on an unpermitted site”. They were interviewed at Hoddesdon station before being bailed until 25 June pending further enquiries.
Suspicions were raised after thousands of bales disguised as waste were found in nearby Essex last month. Each bale can weigh up to half a tonne.
The agency said it believed huge sums of money was being made by criminals charging households and businesses to take away their waste then fly-tipping it on open land.
Environment manager Debbie Jones said she feared the scam was part of an emerging trend.
“The discovery of these bales of rubbish is believed to be linked to a highly organised criminal scam involving the disposal of household and business waste,” she added.
“We are now concerned that more bales may have been dumped elsewhere in and around Waltham Cross and we want to urge people to look out for these sites and report them to us.
“This is a form of fly-tipping but on a massive and organised scale. The bales are being stored to look like farmers’ haystacks and the contents may only come to light if the bags tear. It is possible that during hot weather, the rotting refuse may release an odour which should help us to identify it.”