New powers to tackle waste crime set to come into force
- Credit: Archant
New powers to tackle waste crime are set to come into force, giving Environment Agency officers greater authority to tackle the problem of harmful and illegal waste sites.
From May, Environment Agency (EA) officers will have the power to require rogue operators to clear all the waste at any site which is judged to pose a problem or risk to the surrounding environment, whether illegal or not.
The changes are in response to a public consultation where 90pc of respondents supported proposals for the regulator to take physical steps to curb illegal waste activity.
As efforts to tackle waste crime are increased, the EA has also announced that its officers will be equipped with body worn video cameras - similar to those worn by the police - on their visits to waste sites.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: 'These new powers will give the EA the tools they need to curb the rise of waste sites that continue to break the law and blight our communities.
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'Through our 25 year environment plan we want to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.'
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the EA, said: 'These are tough new sanctions against waste criminals and their unscrupulous activity which not only drains the economy but causes harm to the environment and damages livelihoods across the country.
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'Last year, we closed down more than two illegal waste sites a day, and we're determined to keep going.'
Harmful and illegal, harmful waste sights can not only cause problems for the immediate area where they are located but can cause pollution to enter the water table.
Keith Lead, chairman of the River Waveney Trustee board, which looks sites along the length of the river and has close links with the EA and local councils welcomed the EA news, he said: 'I think there is a lot of concern, not just about waste but plastics and all sorts that are getting into the water source.
'If waste is there long enough it's harmful and it will probably get through into the water table.'