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Campaign targets illegal north-east waste dumper

By Alan Beresford

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ILLEGAL waste dumping in the north-east was in the spotlight during a four-day campaign by a number of enforcement agencies.

Fly-tipping is one of the results of illegal waste disposal.
Fly-tipping is one of the results of illegal waste disposal.

Local officers and specialist enforcement officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) joined colleagues from Police Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards, Aberdeen City Council Trading Standards, Moray Council Trading Standards and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in Operation Protector, designed to target criminals involved in illegal waste activity.

The operation saw a total of 59 vehicles stopped and checked – and a range of enforcement actions taken for illegal activities.

Communities in the Moray, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Council areas are adversely affected by those involved in waste crime. SEPA is currently tracking around 200 unlicensed waste sites in Scotland. Of these, 22 are in the Grampian and Speyside areas with SEPA considering nine of these as posing a significant environmental risk.

Tackling waste crime is often very difficult due to lack of witnesses to identify those responsible. The week of road stops was designed to catch those illegally transporting waste, gather intelligence about the nature of waste crime in the area, and highlight duty of care to responsible waste companies and householders.

Of the 59 vehicles stopped and checked, 17 operators were of concern to SEPA, with four of these triggering further investigations.

Drivers were given advice and guidance on actions they need to take to be legal in carrying waste

SEPA gathered important information which can start active investigations and potential enforcement action

Police Scotland’s roads policing teams also issued six warnings – these were around the transportation of fuel, and construction and use offences. Additionally, two drivers will be reported regarding driving with no licence and/or insurance, two vehicles were seized and six fixed penalty notices were issued by roads policing officers and the DVSA for overloaded vehicles, an insecure load and a defective HGV tyre.

Kath McDowall, Unit Manager at SEPA’s Serious Environmental Crime Team, said: “As Scotland’s environmental watchdog, we take organised waste crime very seriously.

"Waste crime is an issue across all of Scotland and there are illegal waste sites of quite significant scale in the north-east.

“Waste crime is best tackled on a preventative level. By taking part in Operation Protector, SEPA aims to highlight the extensive work we do ​with partner agencies and make everyone is aware of duties they have in making sure waste gets to the right place and doesn't end up flytipped.

“During the four days of action, we have been able to issue advice and guidance to people who carry waste, raise awareness of the importance of holding a waste carrier registration and duty of care, ​and will investigate further some potential waste offences uncovered during the operation.

"We would encourage anyone that witnesses any illegal waste activity or fly-tipping incidents to report it immediately through the Dumb Dumpers website at www.dumbdumpers.org.uk or if the incident is ongoing or believed to be of a hazardous nature report the incident using our 24-hour Pollution Hotline or online at www.sepa.org.uk/report

Everyone can help tackle waste crime by refusing to engage waste service providers who are not licenced by, or registered with SEPA, and by checking that the person offering to pick up their waste is a registered waste carrier.

Services that sound too good to be true often are and could lead to waste being illegally fly-tipped or disposed of by other illegitimate means. For criminals carrying out these activities, illegal waste disposal and fly tipping is a serious offence with significant consequences and those caught risk a criminal conviction and a fine and/or imprisonment. SEPA can also issue Variable Monetary Penalties of up to £40,000 as an enforcement tool.

The public can assist by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity such as: Trailers left by the roadside or in isolated areas; Increased activity at previously unused sites; Movements of vehicles late at night or very early in the morning; Unusual odours or increased fly activity.

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