1 May 2019 by Elizabeth Slow

Agency uses new powers to block waste site access

The Environment Agency says it has blocked access to a waste site in Birmingham, using new legal powers for the first time.

The Agency said it took the action following an investigation into TP & G Specialists Limited which indicated that the company was operating without an environmental permit and causing emissions “such as dust and smoke which were affecting neighbouring properties”.

The Environment Agency has used new powers to block access to an illegal waste site for the first time

According to the Agency, despite efforts to bring the site into compliance, including multiple visits from its officers, the business has continued to be non-compliant with its legal requirements.

The restriction order, granted by Birmingham Magistrates Court, is understood to be the first of its kind – restricting access to the site and prohibiting waste from being accepted on to the site for the next six months.

Restriction orders are possible under new powers that came into force in March 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story), in a bid to curb illegal waste activity, the Agency said.

These powers allow the Agency to apply to the court for a restriction order to prohibit access to, and the importation of waste into, premises, or a specified part of premises.

When contacted by letsrecycle.com, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said it was permitted to use “any reasonable means” to restrict access, such as using concrete blocks or “tree stumps”. However, in this instance, due to the access to the site being a shared entrance, just a paper order was issued, he said. The spokesperson explained that if the company continues to access the site it will be in breach of a court order.

Lyndon Essex, Environment Agency waste officer, said: “We are determined to make life tough for those who damage the environment and blight local communities. While most waste sites are responsible, the bad apples can cause huge damage along with significant costs to landowners to clear up the mess. We are working hard to ensure those who flout their responsibilities are penalised and the new Restriction Orders help us to disrupt waste crime as it happens.”

Prosecutions

Last year, the Environment Agency said it stopped illegal waste activity at 812 sites. In 2017/18 the Agency made 93 waste crime prosecutions resulting in 17 prison sentences.

“Everyone who disposes of waste has a duty of care to ensure their waste in handed correctly,” the Environment Agency said. “Whether you are a business, local authority or householder you must make sure you know where your waste goes so it doesn’t end up in the hands of illegal operators.”

The new enforcement powers were granted under the Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018 updated Section 109 of The Environment Act.

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