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Waste provides leads over 600-tonne Buckinghamshire fly-tip

Officers from Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) studying over 600 tonnes of fly-tipped waste dumped beneath a bridge in Hillingdon have launched 30 investigations into the identity of those responsible.

The council is working closely with the Environment Agency, Highways England, several police forces and councils as the arms of the investigation to trace the criminals extend across southern England.

Waste provides leads over 600-tonne Buckinghamshire fly-tip
The tipped waste, deposited across a football pitch-size area beneath a bridge carrying the A40 over the Colne Valley Regional Park, consists of hundreds of tonnes of building and household waste including old cars, furniture, bathtubs and fridges.

The waste, which is laying around 100 metres from the Grand Union Canal, presents both a pollution and fire risk.

According to getwestlondon.co.uk, a large pile of littered waste was first reported on the site in February. There was initially a delay in responding to the dump as it was not clear whether Hillingdon Borough Council, BCC or Highways England, which owns the land, was responsible for the waste. Since then authorities say the dump has grown to over 600 tonnes of rubbish, constituting over 100 lorry loads of waste, with most of the dumping occurring in April.

After sifting through the material, enforcement officers from BCC say they have found ‘at least 30 positive leads’, and will share evidence with the Environment Agency.

The council says that a plan is in place to clear the waste but that it will take time due to ‘technical access difficulties’. Concrete blocks have been installed to restrict further access to the site for the time being.

Bill Chapple, BCC’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, said: "It’s clear from our initial investigation that dumping on such a huge scale as this is the result of waste crime activities, rather than one off ‘fly-tipping’ as we would usually view it. Nevertheless, we have a zero-tolerance attitude to any form of waste dumping in Buckinghamshire and we’ll do everything we can to help ensure the culprits are brought to justice.”

Too easy for waste criminals to flourish

The Environment Agency’s Chief Executive Sir James Bevan said last year that waste crime is “the new narcotics”, comparing the quick, community-damaging profits being made by waste criminals to drugs in the 1980s.

Waste crime costs the British taxpayer and legitimate waste industry around £604 million a year – the equivalent to paying for over 4,000 NHS hospital beds a year – with councils in England spending £50 million last year clearing up incidences of fly-tipping.

Residents and small businesses are being urged to be aware of their Duty of Care to ensure that anybody taking their waste is fully registered to do so, with penalties for those who do not.

Even then, however, waste criminals are having it too easy, with the Environmental Services Association, which represents waste organisations, and Eunomia Research and Consulting saying that weak regulations and checks on registrations mean that anyone can sign up as a permitted waste carrier with little cost or effort.

Launching a report into what can be done to mitigate waste crime last month,  Eunomia Managing Director Mike Brown said: “The waste sector’s very existence is based on regulation and enforcement. If you want less regulation, you will have more crime, and the industry does not want a light touch approach.”

The ‘Rethinking Waste Crime’ report can be read on the ESA’s website.

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