Environmental crime taskforce set up

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A SPECIALIST environmental crime taskforce which will blitz illegal waste sites in England and Wales over the next two years has been set-up by the Environment Agency.

Illegal waste sites can pose a real threat to the environment, contaminating land and rivers with oil and toxic chemicals. They can also pose a risk to human health and blight communities, threatening air quality with toxic fumes from illegally burnt materials and by causing noise and odour problems from operations near homes and schools. 

The Environment Agency has identified approximately 49 active illegal waste sites in the East of England and Lincolnshire. Nationally the Agency is aware of 594 active illegal sites of which it estimates that over 300 are within 50 metres of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites.

Identifying the sites and closing them can often involve complex investigations and legal action.

The new taskforce, which includes former police detectives, will work closely with enforcement partners to gather intelligence and act quickly to close illegal waste sites.

 Environment Minister Lord Taylor said: “These illegal waste sites do untold damage to the environment and cause misery for local people that have to live with toxic fumes, noise at all hours and unbearable smells.

“We are cracking down on those sites that blight our communities and will work with the police and other partners to bring the criminals behind them to justice.”

Anyone with information about suspected illegal waste operators should call the Environment Agency’s incident helpline on 0800 807060 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.