Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey heralds new powers to curb problem of waste crime

Therese Coffey is backing the new littering fines. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Therese Coffey is backing the new littering fines. Picture: GREGG BROWN

New powers to tackle criminals who are running illegal waste sites are about to come into force.

The Environment Agency will now be able to lock up illegal waste site and block further access to them in order to protect the environment.

Under the changes the agency will have the power to require rogue operators to clear all waste at a problem site, not just illegal waste.

To help enforce their new powers enforcement officers from the Environment Agency will be given body worn video camera to wear whilst they visit waste sites.

The changes come after a public consultation found 90% of respondents supported more physical steps to curb illegal waste crime.

In November 2017 the Government funded an extra £30 million to help tackle the problem of waste crime.

This particular change comes after what the agency describes as a growing number of “abusive incidents” during site inspections.

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The new powers are supported by Environment Minister and MP for Suffolk Coastal Thérèse Coffey.

Dr Coffey said:“These new powers will give the Environment Agency the tools they need to curb the rise of waste sites that continue to break the law and blight our communities.

“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.

“As part of that commitment I am determined to crack down on these criminals and these new powers will be crucial in ending this criminal activity once and for all, backed up by £30 million of new money.”

In the 2016/7 financial year, the Environment Agency brought 138 prosecutions against individuals or businesses for waste crime offences, bringing in more than £2 million in fines.

Paul Whitehill, Environment Agency waste officer said:

“As a former police officer, I’ve seen routine visits rapidly escalate into threatening, or sometimes even violent, situations.

“Sadly the same risks apply to the Environment Agency’s officers.

“We want to get on with our jobs without the threat of violence and the cameras will help to protect staff and bring obstructive individuals to justice.”

The power to remove all waste comes into force in May.

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