Waste criminals targeted in north east of Scotland as crackdown begins

Aberdeen (Image: Shutterstock)

WASTE criminals in the north east of Scotland have been targeted in a week of action by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

SEPA was joined by colleagues from Police Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in operation protector.

Just under 60 commercial vehicles were stopped during the week of action, with 17 unauthorised waste carriers identified – resulting in 13 warnings and four investigations prompted.

Furthermore, Police Scotland issued six warnings on the transportation of fuel, and construction and use offences. Additionally, two drivers will be reported regarding driving with no licence and/or insurance, two vehicles were seized, and six fixed penalty notices were issued by roads policing officers and the DVSA for overloaded vehicles, an insecure load, and a defective HGV tyre.

The work comes in response to communities in the Moray, Aberdeen, and Aberdeenshire council areas being adversely affected by those involved in waste crime. The councils said that SEPA is currently tracking around 200 unlicensed waste sites in Scotland – with 22 being in the Grampian and Speyside areas alone.

Kath McDowall, unit manager at SEPA’s serious environmental crime team, said, “As Scotland’s environmental watchdog, we take organised waste crime very seriously. Waste crime is an issue across all of Scotland and there are illegal waste sites of quite significant scale in the north east.

“Waste crime is best tackled on a preventative level. By taking part in Operation Protector, SEPA aims to highlight the extensive work we do ​with partner agencies and make everyone is aware of duties they have in making sure waste gets to the right place and doesn’t end up flytipped.

“During the four days of action, we have been able to issue advice and guidance to people who carry waste, raise awareness of the importance of holding a waste carrier registration and duty of care, ​and will investigate further some potential waste offences uncovered during the operation.

“We would encourage anyone that witnesses any illegal waste activity or fly-tipping incidents to report it immediately through the Dumb Dumpers website at www.dumbdumpers.org.uk or if the incident is ongoing or believed to be of a hazardous nature report the incident using our 24-hour Pollution Hotline or online at www.sepa.org.uk/report.”

Inspector Claire Smith, of Police Scotland, added, “Organised criminals are profiting from the illegal disposal of waste seeing it as an easy way of making money. Their illegal activities not only have a significant environmental impact, but the profits made are then being used to finance other illegal activities.

“Under ‘operation protector’, Police Scotland will continue to work with partners to reduce the harm caused by Serious and Organised Crime and to disrupt their activities wherever possible.”

Aberdeen City Council gave the following advice on how individuals and firms can help tackle the problem: 

Everyone can help tackle waste crime by refusing to engage waste service providers who are not licenced by, or registered with SEPA, and by checking that the person offering to pick up their waste is a registered waste carrier. You should ask for evidence of this and then ask where they will dispose of the waste and ensure this is a legitimate licensed site. Failing to make these checks is illegal.

Services that sound too good to be true often are – and could lead to waste being illegally fly-tipped or disposed of by other illegitimate means.   For criminals carrying out these activities, illegal waste disposal and fly tipping is a serious offence with significant consequences and those caught risk a criminal conviction and a fine and/or imprisonment. SEPA can also issue Variable Monetary Penalties of up to £40,000 as an enforcement tool.

Everyone can assist by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity such as:

  • Trailers left by the roadside or in isolated areas
  • Increased activity at previously unused sites
  • Movements of vehicles late at night or very early in the morning
  • Unusual odours or increased fly activity