Criminals could be cleaning up on waste management at your expense

It’s a stark warning but one that Sussex farmers and landowners should heed following an alert from the Environment Agency about illegal waste being dumped in empty commercial units.

Farms are the most susceptible type of land to illegal dumping and rural units across the country are being targeted by waste criminals trying to clean up – and it could be at your expense.

This worrying and growing trend sees offenders posing as legitimate tenants to rent property and then use it to store illegal waste. Once discovered, landlords, property managers and farmers are being burdened with costly clear up bills. As the site owner, you can even face possible criminal prosecution and fines for failure to operate without an environmental permit.

The waste, mainly made up of potentially hazardous materials, also poses a serious environmental and fire risk and undermines legitimate rural business.

Nationally, waste crime is costing our economy £604 million a year. This is a serious problem we need to curb.

The Environment Agency’s own Prevention and Disruption teams are exercising new regulatory powers to lock up and block access to illegal waste sites.

You can follow these steps to ensure your site isn’t used as part of an illegal waste operation:

  1. Be extra vigilant and carry out detailed financial and personal checks on all prospective tenants;
  2. Manage your own site’s waste responsibly to prevent it from getting into criminal hands;
  3. Check any empty land and property you own regularly and make sure it is secure;
  4. Avoid offers of payment to temporarily store waste. These will likely be a scam and the waste will never be collected leaving you to face the consequences and pick up the bill for its removal;
  5. Report any unusual behaviour and if you have suspicions about prospective tenant contact the Environment Agency for advice.
  6. If you are approached to store baled waste refuse the material and call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with SafeSite Facilities, who provide site safety and security advice and products from their headquarters in Littlehampton.

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”