New rules come into effect to crack down on waste crime

Written by: Geraldine Faulkner | Published:
The legislative amendments will enable regulators to suspend a permit where an operator has breached their permit and there is a resulting risk of pollution

Tougher powers have been introduced to tackle waste crime. The legislative amendments, according to Defra, will speed up prosecutions for rogue waste site operators, making it easier for regulators to take action against those flouting the law.

The changes come as part of the government’s on-going crackdown on waste crime which is estimated to cost the UK economy £568 million a year and is said to divert as much as £1 billion each year away from legitimate business operations.

The amendments also come ahead of the introduction of fixed penalty notices for small scale fly-tipping next year, which Defra said it hoped “will give local authorities an alternative to costly prosecution”.

Resource minister Rory Stewart stated: “Waste crime blights communities and poses a risk to human health which is why we need to crack down on the dangerous minority that flout the law.

“Tackling the problem at its root will help us to protect our beautiful natural environment, build a more efficient waste industry and support legitimate operations.”

From October 30, waste operators will have their permits suspended if found to be in breach; regulators will also be able to apply to the High Court for an injunction to enforce these suspension notices.

Debra said the changes also aim to protect members of the public by allowing regulators to take steps to remove risks of serious pollution and require site operators to display signs explaining that waste cannot be brought onto the site.

Gillian Pratt, acting director of regulated industry at the Environment Agency, added: “The strengthened powers that come into effect will allow us to take faster and even tougher action against waste criminals.

“If an operator breaches their permit we will now be able to act more swiftly than before to bring them back into compliance – or they may face suspension or legal action.”

The new powers, in force from October 30, include four amendments that will enable regulators to:

  • Suspend a permit where an operator has breached their permit and there is a resulting risk of pollution
  • Specify in a suspension notice the steps that must be taken to remedy the breach of a permit and remove the risk of pollution and require the operator to display a sign which informs the public about waste that cannot be brought onto the facility
  • Take steps to remove a risk of serious pollution at a facility, regardless of whether it is regulated under a permit
  • Make it easier for the regulators to apply to the High Court for an injunction to enforce compliance with enforcement or other notice. This will be achieved by removing the current pre-condition which requires the regulators to demonstrate to the Court that they have given due consideration to the use of criminal proceedings for failure to comply with a notice and concluded that such proceedings would be ineffectual.

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