Record jail time handed to waste criminals

The number of people sent to prison for committing waste crimes trebled between 2010 and 2011, whilst the amount of money paid in fines increased by 80%, according to an Environment Agency report published in September 2012.

Cracking down on waste crime, the Agency’s first annual waste crime report, reveals that 16 people were handed custodial sentences in 2011, more than three times the amount in 2010, which saw five custodial sentences handed out.

The report also shows that the number of prosecutions for illegal waste activity rose from the 2010 figure of 280, to 335 in 2011.

The amount of fines paid in 2011 came to £1,700,032, with the largest fine amounting to £170,000.This shows a substantial increase on 2009 when the fines for waste crimes totalled £1,016,158, and the highest fine was £75,000. In addition, the courts ordered a total of £2.2 million worth of assets to be confiscated from criminals, who had profited from the illegal activity.

Taskforce

In 2011/12 the Agency spent £17.4 million tackling waste crime, 6% of its total spend on environmental protection. This is set to increase, as over the next year and a half the Environment Agency is set to invest a further £4.9 million on a taskforce to tackle illegal waste sites.

By the end of March 2012, the Agency said it was aware of 1175 illegal waste sites in England Wales. 32% of these sites were for construction and demolition waste, 23% involved mixed household or commercial waste and 22% featured end-of-life vehicles and vehicle parts.

Other forms of waste handled at the illegal wastes included: waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE); hazardous waste; scrap metal; and tyres.

In 2011/12 the Agency stopped illegal activities at 759 sites. 670 were shut down, 28 moved into legal compliance and 61 were given an exemption to operate.

Company compliance

In addition to illegal waste sites, the EA are also cracking down on companies that do not follow the WEEE directive. The EA can spot check a company at any time and ask for proof of where electrical waste has ended up. Unless you have the right paper work to prove you have been compliant with the directive, fines start @ £5000 and or a minimum two years in jail.

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