Environment Agency ‘losing war on waste crime’
The Environment Agency is losing the war on waste crime as more illegal sites are opening up than are being closed down, according to the chair of the organisation.
Speaking at an event organised by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign at Middlesex University on Wednesday (April 24), Emma Howard Boyd said: “Waste companies are the unsung heroes of the environmental movement – making sure all that waste which disappears from our doorsteps ends up in the right place.
“But this work is threatened by the activities of operators who ignore environmental regulations, in particular organised gangs of waste criminals who blight local communities, legitimate businesses, and the environment”.
Ms Howard Boyd said agency officers are engaged in dangerous and difficult work to counter waste crime and in 2017/18 stopped more than 800 illegal sites.
“However, during the same period we identified over 850 more. For every one we were closing down, we found more than one new site,” she added.
Likening those involved in the trade to members of the mafia, Ms Howard Boyd said: “Waste crime is increasingly organised, involving career criminals engaged in sophisticated fraud. It involves illegal exports, fly-tipping and burning of waste, as well as tax avoidance.”
She added that it was “no coincidence” that organised waste crime was also deeply implicated in modern slavery.
In 2017/18, local authorities in England dealt with nearly 100,000 incidents of fly-tipping at a cost of about £58 million, with additional costs to private landowners which Ms Howard Boyd put at between £50-£150 million a year.