Environment Agency and HMRC sting targets 60 illegal waste sites
Officers will make unannounced visits to crack down on waste crime
Environment Agency officers will be visiting sites suspected of storing waste illegally
More than 60 suspected illegal waste sites will get unannounced visits from the Environment Agency and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) today in their biggest single joint day of action to date.
Officers will visit sites across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire to follow up on specific reports of activity carried out illegally, such as burning of commercial waste or vehicle dismantling. This kind of activity can blight communities, damage the environment and undercut legitimate businesses – impacts the Environment Agency is working hard to prevent.
HMRC is working jointly with the Environment Agency and other partners to help waste site operators understand what they need to do to comply with their tax obligations in relation to operating a waste site.
Environment Agency officers will sport body-worn cameras to deter aggression and abuse towards them, which is on the rise nationally. Footage from the cameras could be used to press charges against offenders.
Advice and guidance will be offered to legitimate businesses, and follow-up visits made to sites where criminal and illegal activities are confirmed.
Pete Stark, Enforcement team leader with the Environment Agency, said:
"Waste criminals like those we’re tracking down today flout the law and put our communities and our environment at risk.
"That’s why we’re working closely with HMRC to tackle waste crime and make sure businesses are following environmental and financial laws. We take waste crime extremely seriously and will do everything we can to bring those responsible to account.
"These visits have been organised as a direct result of reports from local people, so we’d urge anyone with information about illegal activities to call our 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers.
"Together with legitimate businesses and local communities, we can tackle crime in the waste sector, make a difference for our environment and make a better society for everyone."
Emilia Armattoe-Fowler, HMRC, said:
"We want to create a level playing field for those that comply with tax requirements in the waste sector. That’s why we’re working with the Environment Agency to tackle non-compliance at unauthorised waste sites, helping them get their right tax at the right time.
"Any person or business that disposes of material at an unauthorised waste site, or knowingly causes or permits the disposal, may be jointly and severally liable for Landfill Tax and a penalty of up to 100 per cent of the tax due, or face criminal prosecution.
"If you think someone is evading tax, you can report it online or by telephone on 0800 788 887."
Evidence gathered from the visits will be used against those breaking the law. Further enforcement action could include work with our partners such as local authorities, police and HMRC to prevent and disrupt crime, the serving of notices to have waste removed from land, and prosecution of offenders. If convicted of illegal waste activity, offenders face extensive fines and even prison sentences.
Earlier this year Environment Agency officers in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire visited nearly 30 sites in a single day – uncovering illegal activity at 11. Across both counties, more than two dozen cases are currently under formal investigation.
More information on the requirements for disposing of business or commercial waste can be found on GOV.UK.