Environment Agency action against illegal waste sites and fly tippers ‘just tip of the iceberg’
Government press announcements published this month saying that they are “Cracking Down on Waste Crime” have been dismissed as “too little too late” by one leading waste management and recycling company.
The report, released by the Environment Agency, says that illegal activity on waste sites had been stopped every ninety minutes, with 171 successful prosecutions in the last year. However, UK-based BusinessWaste.co.uk said that these figures are very much the tip of the iceberg in a country where waste crime is rampant.
As well as the proliferation of illegal waste sites, BusinessWaste.co.uk also noted near epidemic levels of fly-tipping, where local authorities were forced to deal with 688,000 incidents in the last year.
“We recognise the incredibly hard work Agency staff put in to fight this kind of crime,”said BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall, “But they and local council officers are fighting a losing battle against waste criminals.”
With the Landfill Tax currently at £72 per tonne, criminals and unscrupulous traders have resorted to illegal means to avoid paying. Although the tax has been around since 1996, BusinessWaste.co.uk say that regular warnings to national government over illegal dumping have fallen on deaf ears.
“Like many taxes and charges, a lot of effort goes into collection, but very little appears to go into dealing with fraud and illegal activity,” said Hall. “With budget cuts across the board in government, it means that waste crime more often than not goes unpunished.”
BusinessWaste.co.uk says the problem is especially acute with dangerous waste, such as chemicals and asbestos.
“Some traders just don’t want the cost of problem waste eating into their profits. Taking it to an illegal dump or simply fly-tipping it is seen as an acceptable risk by far too many people.”
Hall also said he is “staggered” by official figures on fly-tipping, criminal activity normally dealt with by local authorities. “This fly-tipping epidemic is a national disgrace,” he said, “We’re currently running at around 2,000 incidents per day, every day.”
If you just take one city at random, figures show that fly-tipping costs council tax payers in Stoke £21,000 every month, with hundreds of incidents under investigation by a staff of four officers.
“That’s just one city of a quarter of a million people. Scale that up to an entire population, and you see the amount of money being spent clearing up after waste crime,” Business Waste said.
“Instead of cutting budgets, government should invest more money in stopping it happening in the first place.”
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