Headlines: June 16th, 2008

Local authoritries and the Environment Agency could get new powers to tackle criminals who profit from polluting the environment by illegally dumping waste. Proposals now out to consultation would allow councils to stop, search and seize vehicles suspected of being involved in fly-tipping and other waste offences.

The moves have been welcomed by councils as a step in the right direction, though they have called on everyone living in an area to play their part in preventing fly-tipping.

The consultation is being conducted by DEFRA which says that removing illegally-dumped rubbish costs individuals and local authorities a large amount and can be hazardous. It said fly-tipping and other waste crime was often organised by professional criminals who made money from disposing of waste illegally.

Under the new powers councils and the Environment Agency could stop, search and seize vehicles. Offenders who do not come forward risk their vehicles being crushed. The Environment Minister. Joan Ruddock, said, “It is estimated to cost over 100 million pounds every year to investigate and clear up illegally dumped waste, a cost which falls on taxpayers and private landowners. This consultation will give everyone the opportunity to have their say on how we can tackle these crimes and I would encourage people to respond.”

The proposals include doubling the maximum fine for duty of care and waste carrier offences to 10,000 pounds, making it an offence to provide false and misleading information on a waste carrier application form and steps to ensure producers and the public have up to date and accurate information in their area.

The Local Government Association said the extra powers would be a step in the right direction to help make the criminals pay the price for their actions. “Councils will strive to ensure that any new laws would strike a balance between cracking down on those who time and again make a mess of the streets while not invading the privacy of innocent people,” said Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA Environment Board. “Councils cannot crack down on flytippers alone. Tackling and preventing flytipping needs everyone who lives and works in a local area to help the council in keeping the streets clean,” he added.