Landowners, hauliers, and plant hire companies are being warned not to fall for a waste-based criminal scam that could end in prison sentences.
The Environment Agency says organised criminals are requesting to store waste which has been baled, or claiming they will use the site for other means like vehicle storage, and then filling the site with baled waste instead.
Landowners are being duped by these criminals with the promise of payment for storage, but even if an initial cash payment is made, the further promised monies don’t appear. Instead their land is filled up with the waste and they are left with clean-up costs that can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, or potentially a fine or custodial sentence leaving them with a criminal conviction on their record if the waste is not moved or disposed of in an appropriate manner.
The bales are being transported using curtain sided lorries and unloaded from the lorries using fork lift trucks.
“We would urge transport companies and plant hire companies to be vigilant and not become part of this illegal activity,” says Marc Lidderth, Environment Manager. “A number of recent vehicle stops in the West Midlands found HGVs attempting to dispose of potentially illegal waste. These vehicles were stopped and the material sent back to the original locations.
“Storage of this kind is not allowed without an environmental permit being in place. We are sending this warning to landowners, hauliers and plant hire companies to remain vigilant and to prevent them becoming a victim of this scam.
“Waste companies, local authorities and businesses all have a responsibility to check what happens to their waste. We have specialist teams who work in partnership with the police and agencies like HMRC to tackle waste crime. This specialist crime unit uses intelligence to track and prosecute organised crime gangs involved in illegal waste activity.
If you or your company are approached or have any information about those involved in this scam please contact the Environment Agency via their incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously online via Crimestoppers or by calling 0800 555 111.