Press release

Environment Agency takes a stand on illegal waste

There has been an increase in illegally dumped waste across the West Midlands on public and private land during last 12 months.

Illegally dumped baled waste
Illegally dumped baled waste

Farmers, landowners, big and small business, and members of the public are being asked to be more vigilant after a number of incidents where large amounts of processed or baled waste has been dumped across the West Midlands.

Over the last 12 months the Environment Agency in the West Midlands has seen an increase of illegally dumped waste on public and private land. Fly-tipping is the responsibility of the local council however the Environment Agency becomes involved when the waste is more than 20 tonnes (about 20 cubic metres); more than 5 cubic metres of fibrous asbestos or 75 litres of potentially hazardous waste in drums or containers; or if it is linked to criminal business activity or organised crime.

What is being done to tackle waste crime

Through the Government Spending Review 2015, nationally the Environment Agency secured an additional £23m to tackle waste crime in England, up to the end of March 2020. This is being spent across the country, targeting priority areas. £20m of this is from the landfill community’s tax fund. It has been used locally to fund additional temporary staff to further target illegal waste operators and high risk sites of concern.

The Environment Agency are determined to make life hard for criminals and support legitimate business, proactively supporting these businesses by disrupting, and stopping, the criminal element backed up by the threat of tough enforcement action and prosecution. The new Disruption and Prevention team – part of the Environment Agency’s National Enforcement Service - is leading the way in finding new approaches to disrupt waste crime and stop it happening. Working in partnership with law enforcement agencies, HMRC, DVLA and Companies House, as well as employing a number of techniques to track and trace vehicles and waste from different sites.

What businesses and the public can do

Everybody has a part to play to help solve the waste crime problem and make sure waste is managed responsibly. The Environment Agency is asking members of the public to be vigilant; to contact them with information on anything suspicious as long as it is safe for people to do so. Dumping commercial waste like this is a crime. Individuals involved in such illegal activity can be hostile and we would urge members of the public to not put themselves in any danger if they encounter any such activity and to avoid any direct contact with the culprits.

Lisa Pinney, Environment Agency Area Manager for West Midlands, said:

It’s crucial that all businesses understand their duty of care responsibilities for the waste they produce, who they allow to transport it and ultimately where it goes. Too often, when these responsibilities are misunderstood or ignored, we see the impact of waste crime where waste is deliberately dumped on land with no permit. This can cause serious pollution, put communities at risk and undermines legitimate businesses that are doing the right thing. And even if the landowner has no involvement, legally they may still be responsible for that waste and that could mean a large clear up bill.

Waste stored inappropriately can create issues for neighbours through smells and pests. It can also have a detrimental effect on the environment and impact on rivers and streams. If you see or suspect illegal waste activities, report it anonymously to Crimestoppers online or by calling 0800 555 111. Alternatively report it to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

Notes to editors

We all create waste, and all have a responsibility to ensure our waste is handled correctly. Whether you’re a business, local council or householder you must make sure you know where your waste goes so it doesn’t end up in the hands of operators who break the law and dump it to avoid paying for its legal disposal. Illegal waste sites undercut legitimate business, can cause severe damage to the environment and misery for local residents. Many businesses don’t realise they have a legal Waste Duty of Care and could be committing an offence if their waste is dumped by an illegal operator. Hauliers are at risk of unwittingly becoming involved in waste crime by not asking the right questions about the loads they’re collecting.

Make sure you know what your legal responsibilities are: manage your waste responsibly

Check the public register to see if a site is permitted or a waste carrier is registered

You could be breaking the law if your waste isn’t managed properly. Visit Right Waste Right Place to help you comply with the law. You can also refer to the Defra waste duty of care code of practice

Published 4 April 2017