Concerns over future of waste crime prevention

Spending Review

Members of the waste and resource management sector have written to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Lord de Mauley, urging him to ensure that government does not make funding allocated for waste crime prevention ‘a casualty’ of the upcoming Spending Review for 2015/16 (to be released tomorrow 26 June).

Representing a ‘unified voice for the waste and resource management sector’, the Environmental Services Association (ESA), Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Resource Association (RA) and Renewable Energy Association (REA), wrote to de Mauley yesterday (24 June), to express their ‘strong view’ that funding for waste crime prevention should be protected from government cuts.

These cuts will be the first outlined by the coalition government since October 2010 and will outline how government will spend the £740 billion of taxpayers’ money it receives between April 2015 and April 2016. It will also include more details on £11 billion worth of cuts to department budgets.

The letter reads: ‘We recognise that public spending must fall, and that all the ‘non-protected’ areas of spending, including those that affect environmental issues, are likely to be affected... However, we are convinced that one area which must not suffer spending reductions are the resources allocated to Defra, the Environment Agency and local government to tackle the problem of waste crime.’

Covering a broad spectrum of activities, from flytipping to organised crime, waste crime ‘harms the environment, defrauds the revenue and undermines the economics of the legitimate resource management industry’, the letter reads.

Indeed, according to the Environment Agency, waste crime activities and illegal waste sites have increased in recent years, with the agency recording 262 incidents of large-scale illegal flytipping between 2011/12 and around 1,175 active illegal waste sites in the UK. 

The letter continues: ‘We are working closely with the Environment Agency, Defra and local government to tackle waste crime, but the challenge remains enormous. The Agency is currently identifying new illegal waste sites more rapidly than it can prosecute and close down existing ones. In such a situation, it would be a great mistake to cut spending in this area and we would urge you to ensure that overall decisions taken by Defra do not have this effect.’

The group adds that the sector is ‘at the heart of the government’s green growth agenda’ and is currently growing at three to four per cent a year.

Read the letter to Lord de Mauley.