In a bid to crack down on the illegal export of waste, the Environment Agency carried out an intelligence gathering operation at Harwich International Port in Essex last week.
Specialist enforcement officers stopped and checked 30 HGVs carrying waste to identify any materials being unlawfully exported to Europe. As part of the operation, drivers were asked to produce supporting documents and waste loads were examined.
Field Intelligence officers, port officers and members of the illegal waste shipments team were on hand to speak with drivers passing through the port, offering advice and support on transporting waste abroad legally.
The team on site made use of the Environment Agency’s Incident Command Unit, enabling them to receive emailed paperwork from waste contractors when it was found to be missing.
“Today’s action sends a strong message that we will track down those involved in illegal waste activity. We intend to continue our inspections of waste at ports across the country to ensure waste being exported is done so legally”
Twenty-nine trailers were inspected in total and 18 were found to be carrying waste. In each instance paperwork was examined and in nine cases there were missing or incomplete documents. These were eventually all completed with the support of Environment Agency officers and the vehicles were allowed to continue their journeys.
Chris Smith, national intelligence manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The sheer volume of material that we found today and prevented from being exported illegally is a big win, but our work isn’t finished. Today’s action sends a strong message that we will track down those involved in illegal waste activity. We intend to continue our inspections of waste at ports across the country to ensure waste being exported is done so legally.
“Exporting waste illegally is harmful to the environment and the economy. It undercuts legitimate businesses, harms human health and the environment in destination countries.
“Waste crime is a serious issue diverting as much as £1bn per annum from legitimate business and the Treasury. Since April 2011, the Environment Agency has invested £65.2million in tackling it.
“Anyone with information about suspected illegal waste operators should call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.”