EA hitting illegal site target but warns over accuracy

The Environment Agency reported the lowest ever number of high-risk illegal waste sites in the first quarter of 2021, but warned many might be going unreported. 

The EA said that due to a lack of resources the results may not be accurate

In its corporate scorecard for first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year (April-June 2021) the Agency reported that there were 201 illegal waste sites, which remains below its ceiling target of 216.

The Agency said that this quarter saw the “lowest number of illegal waste sites added of any quarter”, with only 8 of them classed as “high risk”.

Overall, there were 26 fewer active illegal waste sites and five fewer “high risk” waste sites than the previous quarter.


The Agency warns however, it should “continue to be cautious in how these numbers are interpreted”.

It added that the combination of effects from the pandemic and reduced resources, means there may have been sites that went unreported.

In Quarter 4 of 2020, there were 206 reported illegal waste sites.


The agency explained: “The combination of the effects of the pandemic and reduced resource means that the overall figures may suggest a more positive picture than our officers are facing.

“There remains a backlog of unsubstantiated sites in some areas that will need to be worked through and when they are, the numbers of illegal waste sites are likely to rise.

“Until then our confidence in the numbers will remain reduced. With additional waste crime funding we have recruited over 210 enforcement officers. This resource has been essential in stabilising the numbers of illegal waste sites over that period and managing other areas of waste crime.”

Traffic light

The Agency uses a traffic light system to show how it is performing, with green meaning it is performing at or above the targets set, amber falling slightly short and red meaning there are improvements to be made.

The EA forecasted an ‘green light for Q2, and ‘red’ light for the end of the year.

Above targets

In 2019/20, the EA previously missed targets for reducing the number of high-risk illegal waste sites, reporting a total number of 255, which was above the target of 196.

The corporate scorecard is reported every three months to executive directors and the board within the Environment Agency, and show initial quarterly data figures which is subject to change.

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