Courts get tough on waste crime

COURTS are toughening up on waste crime, a new report has shown.

The Environment Agency is seeing an increasing number of illegal waste sites across the country, with a significant rise in fly-tipping of construction and demolition waste.

Last month the Herald reported that tyres, fridges and office chairs had been dumped on land at Widdrington Station.

However, a new Annual Waste Crime Report has found that tough penalties are being applied to individuals and companies found guilty of serious waste offences, with 335 prosecutions taking place nationwide last year.

Sixteen offenders were sent to prison for major waste crime, including industrial-scale tipping, compared to six in 2009.

The courts also issued a total of £1.7million in fines, up almost £800,000 on the previous year, and the highest individual penalty was £170,000, three-and-a-half times more than the biggest fine in 2010.

A total of £2.2million worth of assets was confiscated from criminals who had made money from illegal waste activity.

The Environment Agency shut down 750 large-scale illegal waste sites in the past year and there are hopes that its new Illegal Waste Sites Taskforce will lead to even more success.

Environment Manager Jamie Fletcher said: “Waste crime can cause pollution, pose risks to people’s health and undercut legitimate businesses. We’ve stepped up the fight and we are increasingly seeing waste offenders being made to pay for their crimes.”

People should report waste crime to the agency on 0800 807060, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.