With their ‘traffic light system (green being most likely to meet targets and red being least likely), it appears that currently, the EA are in the red.
According to the gapgroupuk, ‘the Q2 statistics for the year showed that the number of high-risk illegal sites increased for the third consecutive quarter to 262, rising from 246 in Q1 and 240 in Q4 of 16/17. This was put down to a backlog in the reporting process which led to the figures being revised upwards. The target for the year is 223.’
The EA points out the following regarding their statistics, ‘We continue to treat illegal and problem waste sites as a high priority. Operational resource remains under pressure to work through a backlog of historic reports of illegal activity and support major investigations to close down well organised criminal operations.
We both stopped more existing sites and found fewer new sites in quarter 2 compared to quarter 1 but this did not result in a reduction in the number of active high risk sites compared to that reported last quarter. This apparent anomaly is caused by retrospective work to assess site status and update records accordingly, especially for potential new sites. As a result numbers in previous quarters are often revised upwards from reported figures. The backlog of reports has now largely been assessed and we expect to see an improvement in quarter 3. We have also changed procedures, requiring sites to be assessed more quickly and setting the start date to the date of assessment both of which should significantly reduce the problem.
We continue to work with partners to develop strategies and interventions to disrupt illegal waste operations and prosecute the worst offenders.’
ATF Professional went along to the recent TRA forum. One of their guest speakers was Howard Leberman, Senior Policy Advisor at the Environmental Agency. He discussed a variety of items relating to illegal sites but on the side of enforcement he said that the EA are recruiting 100 field officers with the right attributes and resilience. They received over 3000 applicants, many with backgrounds in the Police, the military and the waste industry. Perhaps with the assistance of these new recruits, illegal site numbers should start to decrease. Only time will tell…