Illegal cross-border waste haulage and disposal is the target of new multi-agency action as part of the £3.8 million LIFE SMART Waste project, which is led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and co-funded by the European Union.
Working in tandem with the English, Welsh, and Northern Irish police forces and environmental agencies, the Drive Out Waste Crime initiative will involve increased road stops, site visits and awareness-raising activity to remind hauliers of their responsibilities relating to waste haulage and disposal.
Waste crime costs the UK economy around £600m a year and is known to include cross-border activity, including the illegal transport and dumping of waste in Scotland by hauliers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In addition, metal theft costs the UK at least £220m a year. Since September 2016, it has been illegal in Scotland to trade scrap metal for cash or accept scrap metal without verifying the identity of the seller.
Kath McDowall, Unit Manager in SEPA’s Waste Crime Investigations Team, said:
“Intelligence gathered by the LIFE SMART Waste project indicates that waste is being hauled from England and Wales and illegally deposited in Scotland.
“Several companies are known to be involved and many of these are under investigation by SEPA’s Waste Crime Investigation Team for criminal offences. There are also indications of serious and organised crime group involvement in the transport, sale and disposal of illegal waste, so it’s vital that we work with partners across the UK to tackle this issue.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“It is simply unacceptable that waste from the rest of the UK is being illegally dumped in Scotland. This must not be tolerated and I am pleased that SEPA are working with partners to pursue those who profit from defiling Scotland’s environment and landscape.
“The SNP Government is also taking action to raise awareness about the illegal transportation and disposal of metal waste. Hauliers who break the law face prosecution and operational sanctions. Metal theft from railways and utility companies can cause serious damage and disruption to lives and businesses that far exceeds the costs of the commodity stolen, and it is right that SEPA are working with Police Scotland and UK partners to put an end to this.”