EA boss says illegal waste activity is the ‘new narcotics’

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Waste crime in England reached new heights in 2015

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, has said that the increasing waste crime sweeping the country is “the new narcotics” due to the large profits it offers those willing to break the laws.

The Environment Agency’s (EA) most recent figures reveals that it closed down almost 1,000 illegal waste sites in 2015. This is more than the previous two years combined. At the end of March 2016, a remaining 662 illegal sites were still in operation, according to the EA.

Increasing levels of waste crime is booming a major issue

EA photo. Waste crime is the ‘new narcotics’

Official figures state that illegal waste activity costs England over £1billion each year.

The crimes range from the small, such as the illegal dumping of piles of waste, to more serious crimes committed by organised crime gangs, including recycling and landfill fee fraud.

Recent convictions include the jailing of Leeds fraudster,Terence Dugbo, who had tricked the electrical recycling industry out of £2.2million for waste he had never collected. And in August this year, a Sussex man was jailed for illegally storing over 1,200 tonnes of waste.

Sir James Bevan commented on the waste crime epidemic: “It feels to me like drugs felt in the 1980s: the system hadn’t quite woken up to the enormity of what was going on and was racing to catch up.”

The EA says criminals are exploiting the waste industry because it is easy to make a lot of money quickly.

Sir Bevan explained how many of the criminals work: “…you lease or find a bit of land, you then go and offer to remove skip loads of waste for a customer, which you dump on the land. All your money is made up front, in cash, and then you disappear.”

The EA wants to work closely with honest firms within the waste industry and continue its crackdown on the ‘bad guys’.

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