Action needed to tackle fly-tipping and waste crime – independent review

An independent review ordered by Environment Secretary Michael Gove is making a series of recommendations to tackle serious and organised waste crime and reduce the blight of fly-tipping on communities and businesses.

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the National Rural Crime Network and North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, was one of the advisory panel members working on the report which looked at the government’s approach to tackling waste crime, which costs the economy more than £600m a year.

The recent National Rural Crime Survey found that fly-tipping was the most common concern expressed by residents and businesses with 57 per cent across England and Wales having seen evidence of it in the past year.

This review found that even though some see these as isolated incidents, they can develop into serious crime. It found over two thirds of fly-tipping incidents involve household waste.

Among the recommendations put forward:

  • Launch a ‘fly-tipping toolkit’ to enhance partnership working between organisations at a local level.
  • Rogue waste crime operators should be hit with new fines if they mislabel their waste to dodge tax rules
  • Compulsory electronic tracking of waste should be considered to help clamp-down on illegal movements of waste at home and abroad
  • There should be financial penalties for producers if their waste is found to be deposited illegally.
  • The government should give the criminals responsible greater cause to fear the consequences of their actions.

The outcome of the review will now be considered and responded to in Defra’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.

Welcoming the findings, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“The threat to society from waste crime is real. Criminals are running illegal waste sites as a cover for theft, human trafficking, drug running and money laundering.

“It is costing our economy millions of pounds each year, and blighting our communities.

“I welcome today’s recommendations. We are committed to clamping down on these unscrupulous groups and we will set out our next steps in our forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy.” 

Julia Mulligan added:

“We know that fly-tipping and serious and organised waste crime is having a huge impact on communities and businesses, particularly those in rural areas. At the moment those responsible have no real cause to fear the consequence of their actions. That has to change.

“Fly-tipping was the offence seen the most by residents and businesses in the countryside, according to this year’s National Rural Crime Survey. I am pleased this review recognises that even though these are often seen as minor, isolated incidents, they are often part of serious and organised waste crime. We need to work together to reduce fly-tipping and I hope Defra listen to our work.”

Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency – the organisation with responsibility for tackling serious and organised waste crime, said:

“I welcome this review. Serious waste crime is the new narcotics – it damages the environment and harms local communities.

“The review rightly recognises the dedication of Environment Agency officers who work tirelessly to bring the criminals to justice. In the last year, the Environment Agency has closed down over 800 illegal waste sites and brought almost 100 successful waste crime prosecutions.

“But there is still more to be done. This report represents an opportunity to ensure we have the right powers, resources and coordination to win this fight.”

The recommendations of the review will now inform a strategic approach to waste crime, which will be published in the government’s forthcoming Resources and Waste Strategy later this year.

Click here to read the full review >>