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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Griffiths

Waste: Environment Agency Clamping Down On Criminal Activity

Locally, probably the most commented upon issue on 'social media' is that of waste and it's inappropriate and of course, unlawful disposal. Whilst low level fly tipping is dealt with by the local authority, the Environment Agency has the statutory powers to deal with the more serious offenders. People who illegally dump waste have cost land and property owners millions of pounds in the last year, according to the Environment Agency.

The financial impact, which relates to the cost of removing waste dumped in fields and empty

commercial properties lawfully, could be even higher if land is contaminated or insurance premiums rise as a result. Dumped waste is also a major fire risk.

What is being done?

In a bid to reverse this problem, the Environment Agency is reaching out to property and land

owners, commercial property agents, trade associations and local authorities. Their aim is to warn of the dangers posed by waste criminals and advise them, their clients and their members how they can better protect themselves. It is likely that this increased level of activity will lead to more criminal investigations and prosecutions.

Jamie Fletcher, from the Environment Agency said:

“Waste criminals operate throughout the country, offering to remove waste cheaply and then

dumping it in fields or empty warehouses. They tend to move to new areas as enforcement agencies become wise to their activities. We know it’s only a matter of time before they target us again so we’re sending out a strong message: Waste criminals are not welcome here and we’re doing everything in our power to deter and catch them. We can’t do it alone. We work closely with partners to share intelligence on illegal waste activity. And we’re encouraging everyone to do their bit: for property and land owners to be vigilant and better protect themselves and for all businesses, organisations and individuals to manage their waste responsibly, preventing it from getting into criminal hands in the first place.”

Land and property owners are advised to:

1)Check any empty land and property regularly and make sure it is secure.

2) Carry out rigorous checks on prospective and new tenants. Land and property owners have a responsibility to ensure anyone leasing their land/property complies with regulations. They

may be committing an offence by allowing waste to be stored on land or property without

the relevant permissions and this could leave them liable to prosecution.

3) Be vigilant and report any unusual behaviour.

Change on the roads

In a related development, the Environment Agency and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have officially agreed to carry out joint operations across England to cut the transportation of illegal waste and to improve road safety.

The memorandum of understanding will see the Environment Agency and the DVSA using their combined enforcement powers to tackle the transportation of waste to illegal or poorly-performing permitted sites.

The agreement will involve:

DVSA staff located within EA teams to ensure a coordinated and effective approach,

sharing of information to increase the effectiveness of roadside enforcement on waste

industry vehicles up and down the country; providing enforcement teams with intelligence relating to waste industry operators identifying high risk or illegal goods vehicle operators involved in waste transport reducing the number of seriously and serially non-compliant waste industry vehicles on England’s roads.

Advice for businesses

There are thousands of commercial properties across the Country thought to be empty, which are owned by businesses and organisations, including fund management companies and local


The Environment Agency is also advising businesses and organisations of their responsibility to ensure their waste is managed appropriately. Anyone who produces, stores and manages waste is obligated to ensure waste does not cause harm to human health or pollution to the environment, under Duty of Care legislation. Waste crime diverts as much as £1 billion per annum from legitimate business and the treasury. Since April 2011 the Environment Agency has invested £65.2 million nationally to address it. Its specialist crime unit uses intelligence to track and prosecute organised crime gangs involved in illegal waste activity and to ensure any necessary action is taken against them.

Action you need to take:

Environmental crime and regulation is a complicated area of law and whether you need advice about

your legal obligations, or representation if facing an investigation or prosecution, we are able to provide it.

The penalties in relation to environmental offences can be very high, sometimes reaching the

hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in some cases resulting in imprisonment. For example, last

week United Utilities was fined £666,000, with costs of £32,000 after pleading guilty to pollution

offences at Manchester Crown Court. On a smaller scale, a local businessman was fined £15000 by Magistrates at Canterbury yesterday.

You cannot afford to leave your case to chance, contact Matthew Griffiths at Kent Criminal Law on 01843 799121 or

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