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Defra steps up fight against fly-tipping

Defra secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to beef up the government fight against illegally dumped waste – much of it in the countryside.

A call for evidence launched on Sunday (10 June) will enable people to have their say on ways to crack-down on groups of organised criminals who profit from waste crime.

Waste criminals evade landfill tax, undercut responsible waste disposal businesses, operate illegal waste sites and fly-tip – blighting rural communities in the process.

Announcing the review, Mr Gove said: “They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.

Illegal activities undertaken by waste criminals cost the economy more than £600m in 2015, according to government figures.

“We must crack-down on these criminals who have no regard for the impact they have on peoples’ lives,” said Mr Gove.

“The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.

The review will be chaired by Defra non-executive director Lizzie Noel.

She will be supported by an advisory panel of experienced individuals – including Julia Mulligan, who chairs the National Rural Crime Network.

It will consider the types of crimes committed and the criminals involved – and how government agencies and the law enforcement system can work together to tackle the threat.

It will also make recommendations for a strategic approach to serious and organised waste crime.

Security minister Ben Wallace, said organised crime groups were willing to exploit any opportunity to make money.

“Our local communities are being scarred by the illegal dumping of waste, while at the same time people are being conned into placing contracts with dodgy waste firms.

“We are committed to ending this scourge and I look forward to exploring what more Defra, local authorities, the private sector and police can do on this issue.”

More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the Environment Agency in 2016-17 – and an average of two illegal waste sites are shut down every day.

But the problem continues to cause major challenges for local communities and businesses, particularly in rural areas, as well as posing a risk to key national infrastructure.

A study by the Home Office suggests that criminals may also use waste management activities such as operating illegal waste sites as a cover for other crimes.

These includetheft, human trafficking, fraud, drugs supply, firearms supply and money laundering.

Ms Noel said: “The health of our communities, environment, and economy is being harmed by organised groups committing serious waste crimes.

“This review is an opportunity to properly understand the extent of this criminal activity, and I look forward to working with a range of partners to ensure our response is robust and effective.”

Since 2014, the Government has given the Environment Agency an extra £60million towards enforcement work to tackle waste crime.

This extra investment has shown a return of about £5 for every £1 extra spent.

Recent new powers now enable the Environment Agency to lock the gates to problem waste sites to prevent waste illegally building up and force operators to clear all waste away.

The review is due to be completed by September 2018.


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