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Waste crime and information sharing

Environment agencies lead on the investigation and enforcement of serious waste crime, which is often organised, large-scale and very profitable. Offences can range from the illegal dumping or burning of household and industrial waste to large scale fraud involving recycling fees and landfill tax.

When such sites or activity is identified by an environment agency, they will consider enforcement action including prosecution. They will also, wherever possible, seek to recover its costs and ensure remedial action is taken to reduce risk. If the offender is unknown or uncooperative, the remedial action will often have to be taken by the landowner at their own costs. The agencies will only take direct action to reduce risk for example by removing waste, where there’s an imminent threat of significant flooding or pollution from the waste and no other responsible party can be found or is able to take the action needed.

Environment agencies use an intelligence-led approach to tackling waste crime; this involves achieving a better understanding of the whole waste crime picture to address the root causes of the problem rather than just dealing with the symptoms. Intelligence analysis assists in gaining and understanding waste crime activity and trends. It also helps to identify priority offenders responsible for the most serious types of waste crime.

The FRS and environment agencies should share information where illegal waste activity is suspected or identified as part of a strategy to reduce the incidence of waste fires and the fly tipping of hazardous materials. In England guidance on how FRS should work with the Environment Agency to do this is included in more details in the EA/NFCC MoU. See Annex 2 Preventing Waste and Industry site fires.

Other Waste Sites or sites with waste related activity

Although sites storing combustible waste have been the source in recent times of most fire related pollution incidents involving wastes. There are a number of other types of waste site or sites were a waste related activity takes place, which can cause pollution following a spillage or leak, or due to a fire or explosion. Examples include:

  • Landfills
  • Hazardous waste treatment sites
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD) plants that use waste as a feed stock