Waste Scam Leaves Farmers With Large Clean-Up Costs

Farmers in Lincolnshire are being warned by the Environment Agency (EA) to avoid a new scam that will leave them with large clean-up costs.

In the last week, the EA’s environmental crime team have dealt with two new incidents where farmers have been approached and asked if they want tarmac road planings that can be used to repair roads and farmyards on their land.

After accepting the offer and cash they found bales of landfill waste dumped on their land instead of the expected road planings, leaving them with an environmental liability and a bill to transport and remove the waste to an authorised disposal site.

“Although these specific incidents occurred in Lincolnshire, we would not be surprised if this scam was attempted in neighbouring counties due to convenient transport links.”

Farm insurance policies often do not cover poor business ventures. The first farmer had 25 bales deposited on his land this week, including transport and disposal of the waste to a permitted disposal site; this could cost the farmer approximately £3,000.

The second farmer had approximately 2,500 bales deposited on his land. The cost of disposal at a permitted disposal site could result in a bill of approximately £300,000.

The Environment Agency is urging all landowners to be wary and not become the next victim of illegal waste disposal and dumping.

Advice from the Environment Agency includes:

  • use reputable agents and brokers
  • carry out suitable checks and due diligence, i.e. get the individuals details, vehicle registration, ask where the waste is coming from (address, permit number, waste carriers registration)
  • inform them you’ll be contacting the Environment Agency or call us whilst they are there
  • don’t agree to accept any waste until you have carried out some checks and had a cooling off period to fully consider the offer

Peter Stark, Senior Enforcement Officer, said: “Criminals operating in and around the waste industry can be very convincing and persuasive, sometimes offering thousands of pounds in cash up front. Don’t be tempted by quick money, you could end up with an environmental risk, flies, polluting liquids running out of bales of waste and even fire risks alongside the massive disposal bill.

“We will investigate these two illegal waste incidents fully and take enforcement action if we can. However these farmers and landowners may have to pay significant sums to remove the waste legally. Waste crime is a serious issue diverting as much as £1 billion per annum from legitimate business and treasury.

“Although these specific incidents occurred in Lincolnshire, we would not be surprised if this scam was attempted in neighbouring counties due to convenient transport links.”

The Highways Agency and county council’s highways department and their contractors will always use legitimate waste carriers and sites for the reuse or disposal of waste.

They may approach farmers and landowners to see if they want to reuse tarmac road planings or crushed rubble and concrete to repair road and yard areas but farmers need to register the U1 waste exemption with the Environment Agency and abide by the rules.

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