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Environment Agency investigating large-scale fly-tipping in Essex

The Environment Agency (EA) is investigating reports of potentially-linked large-scale fly-tipping in 20 locations across Essex believed to have taken place since the middle of August.

These locations vary from major road networks such as the A13, A130 and A127, to quiet locations such as farm tracks, entrances to sewage pumping stations and telephone exchanges. Areas near Chelmsford, Basildon, Brentwood and Canvey Island have been particularly affected.

Environment Agency investigating large-scale fly-tipping in Essex
Recently, these incidents are believed to have been occurring more frequently, with one or two lorry-loads of waste made up of construction and demolition rubbish mixed with household waste being left in each location.

Lesley Robinson, the EA’s Enforcement team leader, said: “We have reason to believe that these incidents may be linked due to the similarity of the waste type and deposit size. We are currently liaising with relevant local authorities, the police and those impacted to gather further evidence.”

Environment Agency continues crack down on illegal waste

This action represents a continuation of the EA’s push to clamp down on illegal waste disposal in the UK. It has held several days of regional action over the past year including those in January and last October in an attempt to identify illegal waste traders.

These days of action have run parallel to the ‘right Waste, right Place’ campaign, run by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) with the support of the EA. The campaign aims to inform small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) of their duty of care to ensure that their waste is handled by permitted carriers. A survey carried out by the campaign earlier this year found that almost half of small businesses are doing things with their waste that leave them at risk of prosecution, of their responsibilities regarding waste disposal.

Fly-tipping is a serious offence, which can carry a fine of up to £50,000 in a Magistrates Court or a custodial sentence.

Last month, EA Chief Executive Sir James Bevan likened waste crime to the illegal narcotics trade in the 1980s, telling the Guardian: “It feels like drugs felt in the 1980s… The system hadn’t quite woken up to the enormity of what was going on and was racing to catch up… We are clear now about the damage waste crime does to communities and to the economy.

“The strategy is to work with the good guys and really nail the bad guys. We are both finding more [illegal sites] and nailing more. As the statistics show, we haven’t cracked it yet and it will be a long grind, but we are making progress.”

The EA was given an extra £4.2 million to address the issue last year, focusing on tackling illegal waste sites, illegal waste exports, poorly performing sites and those who misdescribe waste to evade taxation.

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