Illegal Waste Dumping Leads to Huge Clean Up Costs

Illegal waste dumping is reaching an industrial scale with organised criminal gangs coming our way...

Mark Rumble of the Environment Agency has warned farmers and their advisers of a major crime wave hitting the Midlands which could easily arrive in the South East.

The scam has already cost at least one unsuspecting farmer as much as £300,000 and others are facing potentially huge bills to clean up their farms.

The recycling of waste is a major industry and what is termed ‘refuse derived fuel’ (RDF) is a form of fuel provided from treated waste. The process involves industrial collecting of waste which is treated and prepared into bales and used for fuel. The problem starts when this waste does not meet the necessary specification for incineration and needs to be disposed of at a huge cost in landfill sites.

Criminal gangs become involved in being paid to remove the waste and in theory they should then dispose of it in landfill at a cost of around £90 per ton. 

The gangs approach farmers and ask them to allow temporary storage of the material which looks like silage bales and saying it is used in, for instance, the road building industry. They never return having paid a modest storage charge, leaving the farmer with the legal requirement to ultimately pay for the removal of the waste.

Farm & General Insurance Head of Rural, Roger Morgan has warned that:

‘Farmers may well not be insured for this illegal dumping as insurance policies vary dramatically between farm providers. Waste dumping is costing UK agriculture many millions of pounds each year and it is vitally important this area should be considered carefully from an insurance point of view. It is important to seek advice from someone who can offer a range of insurance covers to meet your own needs’.

‘A lot depends upon whether the farmer knowingly allowed the waste material onto his land. Certainly, we see some farm policies that would not cover scenarios where the farmer allowed the storage to take place, irrespective of whether they knew what the contents were.   Farmers should look to their environmental impairment liability insurances which can some level of protection for those who are innocently the victim of crime.’

Mark Rumble commented: ‘The waste could just simply appear on the farm at an isolated area of grain barns or hard standing and the bolder it is done by the criminals the less any passer-by would notice. Any approach to store materials should be treated with extreme caution. We would ask people to report any suspicious activity to the Environment Agency’.

Advice to land and property owners:

  • Check any empty land and property regularly and make sure it is secure.
  • Carry out rigorous checks on prospective and new tenants. Land and property owners have a responsibility to ensure anyone leasing their land/property complies with regulations. They may be committing an offence by allowing waste to be stored on land or property without the relevant permissions and could leave them liable to prosecution
  • Be vigilant and report any unusual behaviour.

To report illegal waste activity, please call the Environment Agency’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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