Environment Agency taskforce “making good progress”
12th September, 2012
Back in January 2012, Aaron and Partners reported that the Environment Agency had unveiled a new specialist environmental crime taskforce. The aim of this taskforce is to identify and eradicate illegal waste sites across England & Wales.
Waste crime is the deliberate management, transportation or disposal of waste in an illegal manner. The agency say that in March 2012 they were aware of some 1,175 illegal waste sites across England & Wales and this number continues to grow despise the success of the taskforce.
The Environment Agency has produced a report demonstrating their progress since the taskforce’s inception in December 2011. The taskforce successfully stopped illegal activities at 759 sites. Roughly 88% of these sites were shut down entirely, while the remaining sites were provided with help to move the operation into legal compliance and gain the correct permits. The Environment Agency plan to inject a further £4.9 million in the taskforce over the next year and a half. This will be in addition to the £17.4 million spent on tackling waste crimes during 2011-2012. The Environment Agency is investing to develop a greater understanding of this problem and find new ways to tackle illegal waste sites and have identified the following waste crime priorities:
- Reduce the number of illegal waste sites
- Understand the scale of illegal waste exports and reduce the size of the problem
- Reduce illegal dumping
- Target repeat offenders
- Encourage waste producers to take responsibility
The Environment Agency can impose severe penalties, including custodial sentences and hefty fines. In 2011 the Environment Agency took 335 prosecutions for illegal waste activities. From these, fines totalled £1.7 million and 16 custodial sentences were handed out.
Prosecution is not the only prevention activity used. The Environment Agency also work with a number of enforcement teams to help operators understand their legal obligations. The Environment Agency has also increased the usage of stop notices, injunctions and bail conditions.
Following a successful first year for the taskforce and the increased funding the Environment Agency has placed behind it, the Environment Agency are continuing to crack down on illegal waste operators and sites across England & Wales.
For more on the Environment Agency taskforce and other environmental issues, please contact David Kerfoot Partner and Head of Planning and Environmental on 01244 405538 or [email protected].