The taskforce, which will target sites in England and Wales, has received £5m funding for the next two years. The EA has identified some 600 active illegal waste sites and estimates that over 300 of them are within 50m of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites.

The team, which includes former police detectives, will work closely with enforcement partners to gather intelligence and act quickly to close any sites that are operating illegally. The taskforce will be supported by up to £5million of Environment Agency funding for the first two years.

According to the EA, it has stopped, or brought into regulation, 1,195 illegal waste sites and took over 400 waste-related prosecutions during 2010-11. In the past six months it was granted court orders to recoup almost £1m from offenders through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Environment Minister Lord Taylor said: “These illegal waste sites do untold damage to the environment and cause misery for local people that have to live with toxic fumes, noise at all hours and unbearable smells.

“We are cracking down on those sites that blight our communities and will work with the police and other partners to bring the criminals behind them to justice.”

Maxine Perella

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