Environment Agency and police crack down on illegal waste transport

Environment Agency officers and police have been cracking down on the illegal unregistered transport of waste in Essex, with 36% of vehicles checked found to be breaking the law.

In England and Wales, all companies or individuals transporting waste in the course of their business or in any other way for profit need to register with the Environment Agency. Over the four days between 18 and 21 July, in the Braintree and Uttlesford Districts of Essex, 110 vehicles carrying waste were checked, and of those, 40 were not registered for such a cargo. Such a high number of people breaking the law is causing concern at the Environment Agency.

Waste which requires its carrier to be registered is any kind of household, commercial or industrial waste, and includes unwanted or surplus substances, building or demolition waste and anything which is disposed of as broken, worn out, contaminated, or spoiled in some other way, whether or not it is hazardous or toxic. Currently, waste from farms, mines and quarries are exempt, but for some this is expected to change in due course. Registration costs £126 for the first three years, and then £78 for a further three years, and waste brokers who are already registered have to pay £30. The penalty for not registering is a fine of up to £5000.

Householders carrying their own waste are exempt, as are charities or voluntary organisations, and those transporting only waste that they have produced, except building and demolition waste. Charities and voluntary organisations transporting waste need to be registered with the Environment Agency, but this is free. However, if a carrier is still in doubt as to whether they need to register, the Environment Agency has a simple message: “If you’re not sure, ask,” a spokesperson told edie.

Of the vehicles that were checked during the Environment Agency’s operation, further offences were found regarding breaches of ‘Duty of Care’. This is the law that requires all reasonable steps to be taken to ensure that waste is transported and disposed of legally. Offences included unsheeted vehicles carrying waste and incorrect descriptions of waste on waste transfer notes.

During the operation, Environment Agency officers were also able to gather important intelligence regarding other illegal activities in the area, and these will result in further investigations. The Agency is cracking down on fly tippers within the region, which resulted on Monday 16 July in a local man incurring costs and fines of £350 for failing to be registered as a waste carrier and for depositing green waste adjacent to a main road. Fly tipping can result in fines up to £20,000.

The public are being advised by the Environment Agency to make sure that they are using a registered carrier of waste when having any waste removed from their premises, and should ask to see the carrier’s certificate. Illegal deposits of waste can be reported via the Agency’s 24 hour hotline on 0800 807060.

Further checks throughout Essex are being planned for the near future.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie