The Environment Agency (EA) is warning landowners to be vigilant and not become a victim of waste crime fraudsters.
Organised gangs are known to be targeting farms – especially in the West Midlands area – requesting to store waste that has been baled.
Alternatively, the fraudsters claim they will use the land for other means, such as vehicle storage – and then fill the space with baled waste instead.
Landowners are being duped with the promise of payment for storage, but even if an initial cash payment is made, the further promised monies don’t appear.
Instead the victim is left with land bulging with the waste and clean-up costs that can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
If the waste is not removed or disposed of correctly, the landowner could face a fine and/or custodial sentence.
The waste bales are being transported using curtain-sided lorries and unloaded from lorries using forklift trucks.
Transport and plant hire companies are also being urged to be vigilant and not become a part of this illegal activity.
Marc Lidderth, EA environment manager, said: “Recent vehicle stops in the West Midlands found HGVs attempting to dispose of potentially illegal waste.
“These vehicles were stopped and the waste was sent back to the original locations. The Environment Agency and police are investigating.”
One landowner in Lincolnshire who fell victim to a similar scam in April faced a £300,000 bill to remove 2,500 bales of waste.
What landowners should do if approached
The EA is advising landowners to:
- Use reputable agents and brokers
- Carry out suitable checks and due diligence, including getting permit numbers, waste carriers registration and vehicle registration
- Inform companies you will be contacting the Environment Agency
- Don’t agree to accept any waste until you have had a cooling-off period to fully consider the offer.
Who to contact if approached
If you or your company are approached or have any information about this scam, please contact the EA on 0800 807 060 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.