CRIMINALS POSING as bona fide contractors to store waste on rural land only to never return to collect it have left landowners with a bill totalling almost £1million in clean-up costs.
In recent weeks, waste has been dumped at six sites across Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, and in the North Lincolnshire market town of Brigg.
According to investigating officers at the Environment Agency, most of the waste was wrapped in bales, using green or black plastic, although one site involved 100 containers of liquid being left behind.
As a result, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is warning farmers and other rural landowners to be wary of falling victim to similar activity.
Dorothy Fairburn, the CLA’s regional director for the North, said: “Organised groups are making concerted efforts to target landowners and farmers with land in extremely isolated areas, well-shielded from public highways, to store huge quantities of waste - often plastics and wood - on a temporary basis.
“These are usually slick operations, with the ringleaders seemingly having a very legitimate front. They appear to have all relevant permits and offer cash to store the waste. However, once the site is full they disappear leaving landowners with a rather large pile of waste - for which they believed there was licence - to dispose of at their own expense.”
In the recent incidents, a waste operator negotiated access to land by signing leases for their use, but once they gained access, they abandoned their stashes of waste and disappeared.
Joanne Holt, enforcement team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “Any person or business who transports, treats, stores or deposits waste without the required environmental permits is breaking the law. And if waste is left illegally on any land, the responsibility for removing it can fall to the landowner or property landlord.
“Don’t take an operator’s word for it: if they say they have an Environment Agency permit, then check with us. Either call our customer contact centre on 03708 506506 and give the name of the company, or check our public register on our website.”