New powers to tackle waste sites

New powers have been announced to help tackle illegal waste sites and fly-tipping which is a costly blight on the countryside.

The Environment Agency will be able to block access to problem waste sites to prevent rubbish piling up under measures announced by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The regulator will also be able to force operators to clear up all the waste at a problem site, not just the illegal rubbish, under new powers which will come into force in the spring.

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Further measures are proposed for stricter rules on waste permits and allowing local authorities to fine people whose waste ends up being illegally dumped. It comes after the government launched its 25-year Environment Plan, which aims to eradicate waste crime, which costs the English economy around £600m a year.

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.”

Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs of the Environment Agency, added: “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.” Latest figures show that clearing up after flytippers cost English councils more than £57m in 2016-17.

Leeds City Council had the highest clear-up costs at more than £1.3m.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environment and sustainability, said: “We simply do not tolerate any form of fly-tipping in Leeds, and will always take action against anyone who is found to be involved in this type of activity which blights our communities.

“We will look at the full detail of this announcement to see how these new powers can be used in practical terms to make a difference in tackling these waste crime issues.”

On Saturday the Yorkshire Post reported on the plight of Ripponden farmer Rachel Hallos, who faced having to spend thousands of pounds removing heaps of waste at Beeston Hall Farm.

The waste was dumped on a small plot of private land belonging to an absentee landowner in the centre of the farm.