Illegal waste sites in the firing line

The UK Environment Agency has set up a new taskforce to identify illegal waste sites – and it’s already seeing results!

In just three months, the taskforce – which includes former detectives and environmental experts – has tracked down 400 new illegal sites, which brings the total for England and Wales to 1,195.

Illegal waste sites pose a risk to the environment, as well as to communities and businesses; they are often characterised by dangerous waste disposal methods, elevated levels of pollution in both the air and water streams, and increased incidences of fly-tipping.

Even more worryingly, sites tend to spring up around towns and cities as well as key motorway links, residential areas and schools. In fact, more than 300 of the currently identified illegal waste sites were found to be located within just 50 metres of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites. The taskforce says that those individuals involved in waste crime are often also involved in other criminal activities, including drugs and theft.

Since its inception two years ago, the agency has received £5 million from the Environment Agency. However, the investment seems to have been a sound one; over  400 waste-related prosecutions during were carried out during 2010/11 and, in just the last six months, the taskforce was granted court orders that have allowed it to recoup almost £1 million from illegal waste sites.

In August 2011, a Berkshire man was given a two year community service order after being ordered to pay nearly £900,000 for running an illegal waste site. The site had a serious impact on local residents, with nearby householders suffering serious disturbance at night from powerful floodlights and noise from barking dogs and car crushing operations. Another site was prosecuted and fined over £10,000 for illegally burning waste and affecting local air quality.

With a dedicated Health, Safety and Compliance Department, Recycling Lives works tirelessly to ensure that all of its recycling and waste management operations exceed UK and European guidelines.

Using state-of-the-art equipment, specially trained staff and integrated processes, we offer a range of closed-loop recycling and waste management solutions that include reuse as a priority, zero landfilling and limited burning. We send less than one per cent of our waste to a specialist energy-from-waste plant, where it is used as fuel – a process that results in a carbon footprint less than half that of landfilling.

With more companies than ever achieving an “A” rating for excellent environmental performance, the dwindling number of firms that insist on cutting corners at the expense of others must be dealt with appropriately.

We applaud the actions of the Environment Agency’s task-force in bringing to justice those individuals and companies who risk the health of UK communities and undo the hard work of legitimate waste management companies who strive to improve our country’s environmental standards.