New enhanced enforcement powers to tackle waste crime in Wales

The Minister for Natural Resources Carl Sargeant and the Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales Emyr Roberts, have welcomed new powers to tackle waste crime and persistent poor performers in the waste industry coming into force today.

Untrustworthy operators are often responsible for polluting the environment, endangering human health and causing odour and nuisance problems for the neighbouring community. Legitimate businesses are also being affected, who are often being undercut by these operators.

A joint Welsh Government and Defra consultation sought views on six waste crime proposals in February, four of which will come into force on October 30, to help strengthen Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) powers and abilities to take speedier and more effective action to tackle poor performing and illegal operators across the industry.

These changes will:

  • Enable NRW to suspend a permit where an operator has breached a condition of their permit and there is a risk of pollution; this provision will enable the regulator to specify, in a suspension notice, the steps that must be taken by the operator to remedy the breach of the permit and to remove the risk of pollution,
  • Enable NRW to require the operator to display a sign which informs the public that no further waste can be brought onto the facility in cases where a permit is suspended and there is a need to prevent more waste entering a site,
  • Enable NRW to take steps to remove a risk of serious pollution,
  • Make it easier for NRW to make an application to the High Court for an injunction to enforce compliance with an enforcement or suspension notice.

The Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, said:

“Around 94% of waste management operators in Wales are good, honest performers so there is only a small fraction of these poor performers and waste criminals that needs to be dealt with.

“We have made it a priority to sort out these unscrupulous operators to ensure that waste crime doesn’t pay. The Welsh Government, together with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Defra and the Environment Agency has worked together to identify ways to strengthen our existing enforcement powers. We are working on bringing more legislation next year which will further strengthen NRW’s powers to help tackle waste crime.”

The Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, Emyr Roberts, said:

“Waste crime can be a danger to the environment and to people’s health. We are determined to make sure that waste crime does not pay, our officers across the country regulate waste sites and we will prosecute waste operators who don’t abide by the law.

“The new enhanced enforcement powers that come into force today will strengthen our hand in tackling waste crime in Wales.”