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Overflowing skips, discarded toilets and burnt plastic found in one-day sting

The largest one-day sting ever carried out by the Environment Agency and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed illegal activity nearly 30 waste sites across four counties.

The illegal site in Wisbech. Photo: Environment Agency. (11371243)
The illegal site in Wisbech. Photo: Environment Agency. (11371243)

Officers found four sites where waste had been burnt illegally, a further four which were actively and illegally treating and transferring waste, and a number containing construction and demolition waste, vehicle parts and household waste.

Among the rubbish at the sites across Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, officers observed shredded plastics, soil, rubble, scrap metal, tyres, pallets – and, at one site, a number of discarded toilets.

Some of the sites contained overflowing skips and more than 5,000 tonnes of waste being stored illegally.

A total of 54 sites including in Wisbech were visited by officers; of them, half were found to be operating within the law. There were 27 which weren’t, including one in Wisbech, and they will receive written guidance from the Environment Agency clarifying the steps they must take, and follow-up visits will be arranged to make sure the site operators comply.

Pete Stark, Environment Agency enforcement team leader, said: “We will be following up on every single site where we’ve found illegal activity so we can put a stop to activities that blight our neighbourhoods, our environment and our economy.

“We take waste crime extremely seriously, and formal investigations into these sites are now under-way. We rely on intelligence from local communities to put a stop to waste crime, so if you have information about suspicious activity, report it to us by calling 0800 80 70 60.”

Evidence gathered from the visits will be used against those breaking the law. Further enforcement action could include work with local authorities, the police and HMRC to prevent and disrupt crime, the serving of notices to have waste removed from land, and prosecution of offenders. If convicted of illegal waste activity, offenders face unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.

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