Waste crime is "more organised"
Published: 07 Nov 2018

The Environment Agency have stressed that waste crime is becoming a lot more organised, with the same amount of illegal sites opening as it closes.

The comments were made following the publication of the annual "Regulating for People, the Environment and Growth" report, which annually assesses the performance of businesses holding environmental permits in England, and how effective the Environment Agency's regulatory approach is.

This year, the report identifies a total of £25.5 million in fines for environmental offences brought by the Agency, compared to just £8 million the previous year. Again, waste crime continues to be a huge problem for communities, causes environmental damage and impacts legitimate businesses. Although the Agency is closing more than two illegal waste sites every day, a similar number of new ones are being discovered.

The report acknowledges the need to do more to tackle the growing concern of organised waste crime, which is something that will be addressed in the Government's upcoming waste crime review.

It also highlights the increased use of enforcement undertakings for less serious environmental incidents. For example in 2017/18, £2.2 million were accepted by the Agency. By companies admitting liability and making a financial contribution to remedy the harm they have caused, both the environment and communities can benefit.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • 812 illegal waste sites were closed in 2017/18, which is more than two a day;
  • serious pollution incidents fell to 419, down 18% from 2016;
  • the amount of poorly managed sites reduced by 18% from 2016;
  • environmental charities, organisations and projects received almost £2.2 million in enforcement undertakings, compared to £900k in 2016.

Commenting on the report, Executive Director of the Environment Agency Harvey Bradshaw said:

"Our regulation is supporting a healthier environment and safer communities – serious pollution incidents fell by 18%. We closed down over 800 illegal waste sites, and the courts have imposed record levels of fines on companies for environmental offences.

"We are committed to supporting businesses to innovate and grow, in return, we expect that businesses take their responsibilities to protecting the environment seriously."

For more information, see: