New powers have been introduced under The Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 (see the full debate here) to help Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and local authorities tackle waste crime in the waste sector, estimated to cost the Welsh economy up to £32m a year.
Most of the waste industry operates responsibly but there are a small number of operators whose activities either fail to meet the required standards of their permit/exemptions or operate illegally with no permit or exemption in place. These sites can cause pollution to the environment and endanger human health. They pose a risk of fire, water pollution and cause other issues such as odour, litter and fly infestations which affect surrounding communities.
NRW will now be able to act more quickly at problematic waste sites, for example, by locking the gates to stop more waste entering the site in order to prevent a risk of serious pollution. As well as this, to reduce the impact of abandoned waste, NRW and Local Authorities will also have the powers widened to take action on occupiers and landowners requiring them to take steps (including removal) to deal with waste kept unlawfully on land regardless of whether it was originally deposited lawfully under a permit or exemption.
These new powers have some implications for occupiers and landowners (including the farming community) as they may become responsible for the removal of waste from their site where land is being used for waste activities. Landowners will need to be vigilant and monitor their land from time to time, particularly those renting out land or buildings to ensure their tenants comply with the conditions of their lease and act in accordance with any planning or environmental legislation. Landowners will be contacted by NRW in regard to sites identified as being at high risk of abandonment.
This power will come into force by the beginning of April.
Following consultation with the industry, the Minister has introduced a transitional period for the power to remove waste from land will come into force by mid-May 2018.
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