The Environment Agency (EA) has been provided powers to block access to problem waste sites, preventing thousands of tonnes of waste illegally building up.
These powers have been granted by Environment Minister Therese Coffey, following the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan.
According to DEFRA, waste crime cost the English economy over £600 million in 2015, including lost landfill tax revenues and clean-up costs, creating major problems for people who live near the sites.
Through the new powers, EA will be able to force operators to clear up all the waste at a problem waste site, not just the illegal waste.
The Government also released a new consultation to fight crime and poor performance in the waste sector.
Proposals include increasing the bar required to hold an EA waste permit, stopping criminals hiding their illegal activities by requiring them to register low-risk waste operations and improving awareness among householders through allowing people to check the EA website to see if the recipient of their waste is licensed.
It also suggests providing local authorities with the option of fining those whose waste ends up illegally dumped rather than pursue the issue through the courts.
More than 850 new illegal waste sites were found by the EA in 2016-17, say DEFRA, with household waste making up nearly two thirds of fly-tipped waste.
Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “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.”
The EA’s new powers to tackle problem waste sites will be implemented by spring 2018, subject to parliamentary approval.