THE Environment Agency stopped nearly 220 illegal North West waste sites, including three in Wigan, in the space of a year.
A newly-published waste crime report from the green watchdog called Cracking Down on Waste Crime, shines a spotlight on work undertaken to reduce illegal waste activity.
It also highlights that no fewer than 1,279 illegal waste sites across the country were stopped last year – equivalent to 25 sites every week – resulting in the courts confiscating over £1.3m under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The success, including those three in Wigan, has been attributed to the establishment of the agency’s Illegal Waste Sites Taskforce two years ago.
Major crimes stopped this year included illegal exports, serious dumping incidents and illegal waste sites where waste was burned and buried with no environmental safeguards in place.
Legitimate waste businesses are undercut by illegal sites, which can offer waste collection, treatment and disposal at cheaper prices than their competitors, but which have no intention of disposing of this waste safely. It is estimated that waste crime diverts as much as £1bn every year from legitimate businesses and HM Treasury.
Illegal waste sites can also cause misery for local communities with infestations of flies, acrid smoke and ugly piles of waste affecting homes and quality of life, while they can also lead to serious pollution incidents.
North West Environment Manager Steve Molyneux said: “These recently released figures shine a spotlight on the good progress we have made cracking down on waste crime, which blights communities and our environment.
“Those operating illegally undermine investment in legitimate business across the North West and where we find it we will not hesitate to take action and tough sanctions can be expected.”
People can report waste illegal operations to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.