Defra and the Welsh Government have launched a consultation on reducing illegal waste activity, including fly-tipping, by giving enforcement authorities more effective tools to use in their investigation and prosecution of suspected offences.
The Control of Pollution Act 1989 currently allows an authorised officer to seize a vehicle and its contents where they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the unauthorised or harmful depositing, treatment or disposal etc. of waste) has been committed, and that the vehicle was used in the commission of the offence.
The enforcement authority must obtain a warrant from a magistrate prior to seizing the vehicle.
Under new proposals, 15 working days is suggested as a suitable period for a local authority to retain a vehicle, balancing the needs of the local authority to properly investigate an offence with the rights of vehicle owners to reclaim their property. They are also proposing to remove the requirement to obtain a warrant before seizure.
The offences where authorities will be able to seize vehicles will include:
Enforcement against unregistered waste carriers
Enforcement of illegal waste disposal and the duty of care
Enforcement of environmental permitting offences – most notable water discharge activity or groundwater activity i.e. disposal of sheep dip
The changes suggested should have a positive impact of the incidence of fly-tipping and hopefully act as a deterrent to those who commit such crimes. As fly-tipping is an issue which impacts many of our members any deterrent would be welcomed. However we need to ensure that these changes do not inadvertently impact members. Farmers who are unaware of their Duty of Care waste carrier responsibilities could get caught by the above enforcements. If these changes did come into force then they would need to be clearly communicated and pragmatically enforced by Local Authorities and the Environment Agency/Natural Resources Wales.
Details of the consultation can be found by clicking the link ‘Consultation on the draft Control of Waste (Dealing with Seized Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015’
The NFU has submitted a response to the consultation outlining our position. A copy of the response can be found below in related documents.