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Consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector.

Closes 26 Mar 2018

Opened 15 Jan 2018

Contact: Wastecrime.Consultation@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Overview

In the last few years, we have taken a number of measures to address waste crime and poor performance, for example, by giving regulators, Environment Agency in England and Natural Resources Wales, new powers to tackle waste crime on the ground or giving local authorities the power to issue fixed penalty notices for small scale fly-tipping.  

In 2015, a call for evidence asked for views on a number of measures to tackle waste crime and poor performance at waste sites. We have since worked with the regulators and stakeholders to develop proposals to introduce these measures as well as others and we are now seeking your views on these proposals through this consultation process.

The 2017 consultation is divided into three sections:

Part A focuses on raising the standard of operator competence across all permitted waste sites by strengthening the regulators’ assessment and enforcement abilities;

Part B is about reforming the waste exemptions regime within the waste permitting system;

Part C covers the introduction of a new Fixed Penalty Notice for household Duty of Care offences for fly-tipping.

The consultation proposals apply to England and Wales.

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/crime-and-poor-performance-in-the-waste-sector/consultation/

Consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector & introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care

Consultation Contents

After completing the introduction please complete any or all of Parts A, B and C followed by the Consultee Feedback page. 

You do not have to complete all of Parts A, B and C.  You may, for example, be a permit holder and only wish to complete section B.  You will return to the contents page on clicking ‘continue’ at the bottom of each page.

Only the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Consultee feedback on the Online Survey’ sections contain questions which require an answer field to be completed.   

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/crime-and-poor-performance-in-the-waste-sector/supporting_documents/Waste_Crime_Cons_English.pdf

A consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector & introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care

January 2018

Executive summary 

The case for action 

1.The UK has the ambition to become a world leader in resource efficiency and resource productivity and to increase competitiveness. We aim to work towards our ambitions of doubling resource productivity and zero avoidable waste by 2050, maximising the value we extract from our resources and minimising the negative environmental impacts associated with their production, use and disposal.

2. Waste sites operating under a permit or exemption play a critical role in managing waste through the resource chain to achieve high levels of resource efficiency. 

Criminal activity and poor performance in the waste industry undermines this ambition by creating shortcuts for waste to be illegally dumped, disposed of cheaply or fly-tipped.

This results in resources not being recycled or recovered and fed back into the economy to increase resource efficiency. 

3. Waste crime has serious impacts on the natural environment through pollution to air, water and land. Communities suffer from odour, litter, dust, vermin, and fly infestations from poor performing waste sites or fly-tipped waste. Fires at waste sites located nearby to key infrastructure and local amenities can risk the closure of main roads, railway lines, schools and hospitals, as well as damaging amenity for nearby communities. The 25 Year Environment Plan¹ includes a commitment to seek to eliminate waste crime and illegal waste sites over the lifetime of the plan, prioritising sites of highest risk.

4. The economic cost of waste crime is significant. The Environmental Services Association (ESA) estimated that the cost to the UK economy in 2013 was between £568m and £808m² per year, and the cost to the English economy in 2015 was at least £604m³. The cost to the Welsh economy was at least £15 million in 2015⁴. 

The main economic costs are lost business revenues to the legitimate waste sector, loss of 

¹https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673203/25-year-environment-plan.pdf

²The Environmental Services Association (2014) Waste crime: Tackling Britain’s dirty secret http://www.esauk.org/esa_reports/ESAET_Waste_Crime_Tackling_Britains_Dirty_Secret_LIVE.pdf

³The Environmental Services Association (2017) Rethinking Waste Crime -http://www.esauk.org/esa_reports/20170502_Rethinking_Waste_Crime.pdf

⁴Natural Resources Wales Waste Crime Review report (2017) (Eunomia). Available on request. 

Landfill Tax through misclassification of waste and costs to the public sector of clearing abandoned waste sites and fly-tipped waste.

5. The causes of waste crime and poor performance are multifaceted and complex. The introduction of Landfill Tax contributed significantly to the increased volume of waste that has been re-used, recycled and recovered over the last 20 years.

This has resulted in an 80% reduction of municipal waste being sent to landfill in the UK, with clear benefits to the environment and the taxpayer. Criminals, however, have taken advantage of this increased cost of legitimate disposal of waste by collecting or storing waste at lower prices without any intention of recovering it or disposing of it correctly. 

6. Criminally minded individuals are deliberately choosing to enter the industry because of the low barrier to entry, the ability to gain large profits in short time periods, and the low perceived risk of being caught and of subsequent enforcement action. Additionally, the industry still has too many poor performers who do not comply with the conditions of their waste permit or exemption, either deliberately, or through negligence.

7. Every person that deals with or produces waste, whether they are a multinational waste company or a householder, has a duty of care to make sure that waste is dealt with properly and does not end up being disposed of illegally. Where households do not check that the waste being taken away will be managed properly this makes it easy for criminals to offer waste collection services and then fly-tip indiscriminately. 

Our approach

8. We are committed to tackling waste crime and poor performance. The UK government has allocated an extra £30 million to the Environment Agency for the next four years on top of the £23 million allocated in the 2015 Spending Review. This funding is specifically for tackling waste crime in England, to ensure the Environment Agency has the resources needed. We have given local authorities the power to issue fixed penalty notices for small-scale fly-tipping, as well as powers to seize and crush vehicles involved, and worked with HMRC to tackle Landfill Tax fraud. Sentencing guidelines for those convicted of waste crimes, including fly-tipping, have been tightened up recently. 

9. In 2015, we published a consultation⁵  on enhancing enforcement powers at waste sites. We have taken forward six legislative changes proposed in the consultation. Four of the proposals were implemented in October 2015⁶. The remaining two proposals will enable the regulators to secure a site against entry by physical means, and require 

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste/enhanced_powers_to_tackle_waste_crime/ 

⁶ Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/1756) occupiers and landowners of a waste site to remove all the waste at a site, not just the waste that was unlawfully deposited. These will be laid in Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales shortly.

10. We also published a call for evidence in 2015 on a number of measures to tackle waste crime and poor performance at waste sites. Following overwhelming support to take forward these measures, and further engagement with the waste industry, we have developed proposals that we intend to seek views on in this consultation.

Since the call for evidence, we have listened to the industry’s views about other measures that can help tackle waste crime and poor performance. We are also seeking views on those through this consultation process.

11. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is also developing a strategic approach to waste crime and fly-tipping as part of the Resources and Waste 

Strategy. This will set out further measures to

: 1) prevent waste crime happening in the first place, by driving up standards and ensuring everyone plays by the same rules, 2) detect waste crime and take swift action by using data and intelligence across agencies and 3) deter illegal activity by taking speedy and tough enforcement action.

The focus of this consultation

12. This consultation seeks views on:

a. Raising the standard of operator competence across all permitted waste sites by strengthening the regulator’ assessment and enforcement abilities.

b. Reforming the exemptions element within the waste permitting regime.

c. Introducing a Fixed Penalty Notice for household Duty of Care offences for fly-tipping. 

13. We invite organisations and individuals to send in their views and evidence to support and inform the future direction and policy options to tackle waste crime and persistent poor performers.

MRW – Defra strategy to hit crime and boost site standards

https://www.mrw.co.uk/latest/defra-strategy-to-hit-crime-and-boost-site-standards/10027056.article?blocktitle=MRW-latest&contentID=13698  

Plans to crack down on the use of waste exemptions, tackle incompetent site operators and introduce tougher penalties over Duty of Care have been detailed in a Defra waste crime consultation.

The initiative, which was initially expected to be published last summer, comes only days after the launch of the Defra 25-year environment plan.

The Environment Agency (EA) will be given greater powers to drive up standards, improve crime detection and deter illegal activity by faster and tougher enforcement.

The consultation, which is in partnership with Natural Resources Wales and runs until 26 March, has three elements:

• Raising the standard of operator competence across all permitted waste sites by strengthening the regulators’ assessment and enforcement abilities

• Reforming the waste exemptions regime within the waste permitting system

• Reinforcing householders’ Duty of Care obligations in the fight against fly-tipping

Defra acknowledges the widespread concern in the waste industry that a lack of competence is causing poor performance across the sector.

It says: “While certain operators deliberately choose not to achieve the levels of competence needed to run their waste site in line with their permit, other operators are ignorant about what levels of competence they need.”

Operator competence is to be assessed under four areas:

• Past performance – the scope of offences, behaviour and relevant persons that the regulators can take account of when assessing competence will be widened

• Management systems – permitted waste operators must manage and operate in accordance with a written management system

• Technical competence – permitted waste operators must demonstrate appropriate technical knowledge of their site and provide details of the technically competent manager

• Financial competence/provision – the operator of a permitted site must be financially capable of running their waste business and provide financial security

In terms of waste permit exemptions, Defra wants to:

• Prohibit the use of exemptions in specified circumstances

• Change 10 exemptions identified as being associated with the greatest levels of non-compliance and illegality

• Require additional information of operators to support effective regulation

• Improve the process to register or continue an exemption

Councils could be given more powers to fine people whose waste ends up fly-tipped on public land. Under the Duty of Care element, Defra is proposing to let local authorities issue fixed penalty notices to households if they fail to ensure their waste is disposed of legally.

MRW report on Duty of Care

Waste crime cost the English economy more than £600m in 2015, including lost landfill tax revenues and clean-up costs.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the EA, said: “The new powers for the EA to tackle problem waste sites will be introduced by spring 2018, subject to parliamentary approval. This follows a public consultation in which [90%] of respondents were in favour of allowing regulators to take physical steps, such as locking the gates to an illegal waste site, to prevent operators from accepting more illegally dumped waste and enabling the EA to require all the waste to be removed.”

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Colin Church said the new powers and measures proposed by Defra would be “critical” in fighting a growing tide of waste crime. 

“In the longer term, we need to weed out the cowboys and those who are using loopholes in the current regulatory regime, and raising the bar on competency and reviewing the exemptions system are good places to start.

“The CIWM would like to see more, however. One of the real weaknesses of our current framework is a lack of focus on waste carriers, brokers and dealers, who can register for very little cost, with no requirement to demonstrate technical competence and few, if any, inspections.”

The Regulatory Policy Committee, which scrutinises the costs and benefits in regulatory proposals, was not satisfied that the impact assessments provided sufficient evidence to support the proposals, and has told Defra they need further review.

Defra Announces New Steps To Tackle Illegal Waste & Fly-Tipping

Posted on 15 January 2018 by Darrel Moore

Defra has announced new steps to tackle “problem” waste sites and opened a consultation that aims to help deal with crime and “poor performance” in the waste sector.

New powers to tackle the serious problem of waste crime will be granted, and further action opened for consultation in a crack-down on illegal sites, Environment Minister Therese Coffey announced today (15 January) following the recent launch of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Waste crime cost the English economy more than £600m in 2015, including lost landfill tax revenues and clean-up costs, and creates severe problems for people who live or work nearby with odour, dust, litter, vermin, fly infestations, pollution and fires blighting lives. Waste criminals also undercut genuine businesses who dispose of waste responsibly.

New powers will therefore be introduced for the Environment Agency (EA) to “lock the gates or block access” to problem waste sites to prevent thousands of tonnes of waste illegally building up.

The powers will also enable the EA to force operators to clear all the waste at a problem waste site, not just the illegal waste.

Poor Performance

The government has also launched a new consultation to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector.

Proposals include raising the bar required to hold EA waste permits and putting a stop to criminals hiding their illegal activities by requiring them to register low-risk waste operations which are currently exempt from the need to hold a permit.

The consultation proposes improving awareness amongst householders, so people can check on the EA website to see if the recipient of their waste is licensed to take their waste, or their duty to pass the waste to legitimate carriers.

    “These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law.”

It also suggests providing local authorities with the option of fining those whose waste ends up fly-tipped or illegally dumped rather than having to pursue them through the courts. Latest statistics show that some of the worst-hit areas include London which saw over 360,000 fly-tipping incidents last year and the North West of England which saw 128,000 incidents in 2016/17.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “Waste crime and fly-tipping blight our communities and spoil our countryside, and we need determined action to tackle it.

“These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law.

“But we must all take responsibility for our waste to make sure it does not end up in the hands of criminals who will wilfully dump it. Our new consultation looks more widely at the waste sector and we are keen to hear from industry and the public how we can improve performance, tackle illegality and protect our precious environment.”

Illegal Waste Sites

More than 850 new illegal waste sites were discovered by the EA in 2016-17. While an average of two illegal waste sites are shut down every day, they continue to create severe problems for local communities and business as well as posing a risk to key national infrastructure.

In 2013, for example, a fire at a waste site in Stockport resulted in the closure of the M60 motorway and three weeks of disruption to traffic, residents and businesses. By empowering the EA further, these measures will help prevent such disruption.

Household waste is also a problem and makes up nearly two-thirds of fly-tipped waste.

Currently, local authorities can only prosecute householders in court but a new fixed penalty notice would be less costly to enforce for local authorities, and more proportionate for householders.

    “This will allow us to take faster action against criminals and will make a real difference to communities, but everyone has a role to play. We all need to check our waste is going to the right place and is handled by the right people.”

The government is clear however that new fixed penalty notices should not be abused simply as a means of raising money. Guidance on how the fines should be applied will, therefore, be issued to councils.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We take tough action against anyone involved in illegal waste activity and last year, the Environment Agency >closed down two illegal waste sites every day. We welcome these new powers, which will enable our teams to block access to problem sites, preventing illegal waste building up and becoming even more serious.

“This will allow us to take faster action against criminals and will make a real difference to communities, but everyone has a role to play. We all need to check our waste is going to the right place and is handled by the right people.”

The new powers for the EA to tackle problem waste sites will be introduced by spring 2018, subject to parliamentary approval. This follows a public consultation in which an overwhelming majority (90%) of respondents were in favour of allowing regulators to take physical steps, such as locking the gates to an illegal waste site, to prevent operators from accepting more illegally dumped waste and enabling the EA to require all the waste to be removed.

CIWM Says

CIWM says the new powers and measures the new consultation proposes will be critical in fighting the growing tide of waste crime.

CIWM CEO, Dr Colin Church

“On the front line, regulators need to be able to act much more quickly. Allowing them to shut down illegal sites and stop rogue operators in their tracks will help to tackle or avoid major polluting incidents like the Waste4Fuel site in Kent or the massive Mobuoy Road dump in Northern Ireland that blight communities and cost the public purse millions of pounds,” says CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church.

“In the longer term, we need to weed out the cowboys and those who are using loopholes in the current regulatory regime, and raising the bar on competency and reviewing the exemptions system are good places to start. CIWM would like to see more, however.

“One of the real weaknesses of our current framework is a lack of focus on waste carriers, brokers and dealers, who can register for very little cost, with no requirement to demonstrate technical competence and few, if any, inspections.

“The focus on householder Duty of Care is also welcome. Local authorities deal with nearly a million fly-tipping incidents a year and around two-thirds of these involve household waste. We need to choke off the supply of waste to illegal operators by improving awareness and ensuring that those who deliberately flout their responsibilities are penalised.”

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