Michael Gove has announced plans to crack down on illegal waste crime and fly-tipping by organised criminal gangs, which is blighting the countryside.
The Defra secretary has announced a three-month review to beef up the government’s approach to tackling waste crime in England.
Waste criminals operate illegal sites, evade landfill tax and undercut responsible waste disposal businesses, say ministers.
Their activity cost the English economy £600m in 2015. In 2016-17, councils spent £58m of taxpayers’ money clearing fly-tipped waste.
Mr Gove said: “Organised criminals running illegal waste dumps and fly-tipping are blighting local communities. They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.
“We must crack down on these criminals, who have no regard for the impact they have on people’s lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these antisocial and inexcusable crimes.”
Waste sites shut down
More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the Environment Agency in 2016-17.
An average of two illegal sites are shut down every day, but they continue to create severe problems for local communities and business, especially in rural areas.
The Home Office believes criminals may also operate illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, fraud, supplying drugs and firearms, and money laundering.
The review, launched on Sunday (10 June), will consider serious and organised waste crime, including the government’s response – so that the panel can make recommendations for a strategic approach.
Led by Defra non-executive director Lizzie Noel, the review will also consider other measures for the Environment Agency, local authorities, the private sector and the police to tackle organised waste crime.
The latest announcement builds on a range of measures to tackle waste crime, including new powers for the Environment Agency to lock the gates of problem waste sites and for councils to hand out on-the-spot fines for fly-tippers.
The review is due to be completed in September, after which an evidence-based report will be submitted to Defra ministers for consideration.
5 ways to get tough on fly-tipping
- Impose and enforce penalties that better reflect the seriousness of the crime – seizure of vehicles must be the default penalty to send a clear signal that criminals will face damaging consequences if they are caught fly-tipping.
- Enforce fines for home and business owners whose waste is found in fly-tipped locations – to act as a deterrent and encourage waste disposal through legal channels.
- Appoint a national “fly-tipping tsar”, whose responsibilities would include co-ordinating with national agencies to tackle organised criminal gangs, monitoring and reporting on the scale of the problem across public and private land, and benchmarking enforcement performance.
- Develop new ways to aid clear-up and support victims, such as a new scheme to allow any private landowner to dispose of fly-tipped waste free of charge, and removing the landowner’s liability to clear up waste on private land.
- Promote education and working in partnership by sharing best practice and advising landowners on how to reduce the chance of being a victim of fly-tipping. Examples of local partnerships include shared CCTV monitoring schemes, Countryside Watch and incident intelligence sharing, which should be showcased.
Source: Country Land and Business Association