• 31 March 2015

The cost of waste crime

The cost of waste crime to the UK economy is reported to be in the order of £568m a year according to a recent Environment Services Association report (Waste Crime: Tackling Britain’s Dirty Secret, 2014). Some of this cost is being borne by landowners required to clean up waste illegally deposited by their tenants.

In response, Defra is consulting on proposed enhanced enforcement powers and other measures to tackle waste crime and entrenched poor performance of operators.  The consultation includes consideration (section 13) of how landowners may be made more aware of their liabilities in relation to waste management operations carried out on their premises. This follows a number of recent cases in which landowners have been unaware of illegal activities carried out by their tenants.

Following abandonment of the land by the tenant, the landowner has subsequently been financially liable for disposal of waste left on site, and for dealing with pollution caused, the costs in some cases extending to six figure sums. In one case, the deposited waste led to an invasion of vermin which the landowner was required to control. He achieved this by deploying trained marksmen overnight to shoot over 200 rats!

Defra is seeking examples of the extent to which waste is being abandoned with landowners left liable, and is also consulting on methods for tackling this problem. The consultation finishes on 6 May.

Commenting, Sue Gregson, environmental consultant with International Workplace, said:

“This is potentially a serious issue for landlords who let out premises to waste operators, or to other commercial entities which subsequently carry out illegal waste management operations. Landlords need to be vigilant regarding the operations carried out on their land or they could face substantial clean-up costs."