Last week Liz Truss in her speech to the Conservative party conference said that Defra will "crack down on waste cowboys" (October 6).
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said there would be "on the spot fines, enabling law-abiding businesses to thrive.” and that the Environment Agency would be given greater powers to tackle waste site operators who breach the terms of their environmental permits.
Subsequent proposals announced (October 9) have seen new legislation introduced which gives regulators enhanced powers to suspend permits and issue enforcement notices, as well as widening the regulators’ ability to require the removal of waste from land.
According to Defra, waste crime activities cost the UK more than £500 million each year through the small-scale and organised fly-tipping, illegal dumping of waste and the illegal operation of waste management sites.
The Environment Agency has welcomed the new legislation.
Senior Environmental Crime Officer, Helen Silk said: “The Environment Agency wants to make sure businesses carrying waste have the proper authorisations to allow them to transport and transfer waste – a waste carrier’s registration from the Environment Agency and waste transfer note from the waste producer."
“Everyone who disposes of waste has a Duty of Care to ensure their waste is managed and disposed of correctly by the people they give it to."
“People who manage waste illegally do not invest in appropriate safeguards. They undercut legitimate business, and pose a direct threat to sustainable growth in the waste management sector.”
Early this year in September, the Environment Agency also secured €640,000 in funds from the European Union to develop a network aimed at stopping the illegal international shipping of waste.
ENPE president Jonathan Robinson said: “I am thrilled that the Environment Agency has secured this European funding. Environmental crime increasingly involves sophisticated and organised criminals, working across borders, and it can cause serious harm to the environment and put communities at risk.
"It is vital that the Environment Agency and other European environmental prosecutors work collaboratively to tackle this problem through bodies such as ENPE, and this funding will help us do that.”
Waste crime affects communities, harms the environment and diverts up to £1bn each year from legitimate businesses and HM Treasury, according to Environment Agency figures.
Fourteen people were recently arrested across the North East and Yorkshire in September as part of an investigation into a suspected £78m landfill tax fraud.
Read more about waste regulations on the Environment Agency Website