DOE allocates extra £1.5m to tackle waste crime

Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, has announced that he will be releasing an extra £1.5 million of funding to help tackle waste and fuel laundering crime.

The additional money, which was secured by the Department of the Environment (DOE) Minister in the June Monitoring Round, will reportedly be spent by the DOE ‘in the coming months’.

The money will be used to reinforce operations that aim to tackle waste and fuel laundering crime, including:

  • purchasing ‘overt and covert surveillance equipment’ for use ‘where appropriate’ and where waste crime is suspected;
  • purchasing ‘specialist vehicles’ and surveying equipment;
  • enabling more staff on the ground to perform more visits, and help ‘verify the legitimate origins and destinations of waste flows’;
  • securing ‘specialist forensic accountancy and computer forensics contracts’ to analyse financial matters believed to be connected with serious waste crime;
  • seeing ‘additional staffing’ to progress action against hauliers found to be using or procuring illegal fuel, or found to be involved in the illegal management of waste; and
  • securing additional contracts for managing the clean-up of fuel laundering and waste.

Attwood said that the funds would be a “useful start” in multiplying efforts to “face down organised crime on the island of Ireland once and for all”.Alex Attwood

He said: “Protection of our clean and green environment is one side of a coin. The other side is the enforcement to make sure this happens. This additional funding will ensure that can now happen.

“It is my firm belief that government, the police and crime agencies must escalate further their response to organised crime. This money is a good step but one of many that need to follow. Criminals and organised crime need to know we are going to come for them. The £1.5 million will help.”

Cracking down on waste crime

The new funding marks the UK’s latest crackdown on illegal waste activities, after the Illegal Waste Sites Taskforce launched ‘Operation Cyclone’ last month, a co-ordinated effort by the police and environment agency that saw vehicles and waste sites across England subject to impromptu checks.

According to the EA, there are still in excess of 800 illegal waste sites operating throughout England & Wales, some of which ‘covertly hold hazardous waste and chemicals without safeguards’ and ‘risk causing serious pollution incidents that damage rivers, habitats and pose a risk to human health’.