Environment Agency sets up new taskforce
31st January, 2012
The Environment Agency has set up a new taskforce which will tackle illegal waste sites that blight communities.
In December 2011, the Environment Agency announced the creation of a “specialist environmental crime taskforce”. The aim of this taskforce will be to identify and eradicate illegal waste sites in England and Wales over the next two years.
The Environment Agency states that illegal waste sites pose a serious threat to the environment and human health. These operations, it says, often lead to contamination of land and waterways, pollution of air quality, noise and odour problems close to homes and schools.
The new taskforce will partner other key agencies, including the police and local authorities in order to gather intelligence and act swiftly to close illegal waste sites. This move reinforces the Environment Agency’s “…continued action to combat serious, organised waste crime.” The taskforce is supported by up to £5million of Environment Agency funding for the first two years.
The Environment Agency has identified approximately 600 active illegal waste sites in England and Wales. Throughout 2010/11, the Environment Agency and key partners stopped, or brought into regulation, 1195 illegal waste sites and brought over 400 waste-related prosecutions. In addition it is using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to deprive operators of profit made.
For businesses to operate a waste activity it requires both planning permission from the local authority and an environmental permit and waste carrier’s licence from the Environment Agency. Without these permits and consents the activity is unlawful and the operator could be in breach of both the Environmental Protection Act and the Environmental Permitting Regulations. Both attract fines of up to £50,000 in the Magistrates’ Court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court together with custodial sentences and confiscation orders.
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