A new taskforce of the Environment Agency helps in identifying illegal waste sites. In just three months the taskforce managed to identify 400 new illegal waste sites, which makes a total of 1,195 in both England and Wales. The illegal waste sites were found to pose substantial risk to people`s health and the environment, with the worst of them polluting homes and schools with smoke from illegally burned materials.
The individual victims of the illegal waste sites complained that this issue has not been taken seriously by the authorities, that`s why this taskforce, including former police detectives was set up and received about £5m funding for the first two years.
During the period 2010/2011 the Environment Agency started over 400 waste-related prosecutions and over £1m has been recouped from those responsible through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
A great example, showing the seriousness of this issue is the case of a man who was slapped with a two-year community service order and made to pay around £900,000 after operating an illegal waste site.
The agency’s chairman Lord Smith said: “The involvement of criminals in high-value waste crime is now a nationwide and worldwide challenge for enforcement agencies.”
Today, the environment Agency announced good news in another sector – serious pollution incidents from industry have fallen to their lowest level for over a decade. Another good thing revealed by the agency is that more businesses are realising that growth and responsible environmental practices should go together.
The Environment Agency’s Sustainable Business Report also reveals that industry is continuing to cut waste and emissions to air.
Despite the good news, however there are still problem areas, because pollution incidents in the water and waste sectors increased last year.
Lord Smith gave a veiled message to government ministers looking towards deregulation: “Achieving both economic growth and the protection of the natural environment is not always easy but can be achieved.
“It will not happen without effective regulation of the impact business has on the environment and a commitment from businesses themselves to act as responsible neighbours and good corporate citizens.”
The Legal Stop also confirms the fact that the puplic concern, related to the environment has increased, as more and more businesses are eager to establish an Environmental Policy.