Last month, Riverside was just one of a large number of organisations in the environmental sector to express grave concerns surrounding potential cuts to funding. But it seems the very vocal efforts of businesses large and small, have actually been heard.
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the Environment Agency will receive an additional £20m from landfill tax revenues, to help combat waste crime. The money will come from the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) and will be spent over the next five years. The Environmental Services Association is said to have applauded the decision, which it feels reflects the “strong representations” from industry on the need to fight the problem.
Commenting on the news, Riverside’s managing director Jonathan Oldfield said: “Waste crime is a huge problem in the UK for many reasons. On a very simplistic level, it casts a cloud over the reputation of our industry, which is dangerous when we need collaborative efforts and the support of the general public to progress.
“At the other end of the scale, it can put vulnerable stakeholders in significant danger – young children handling illegally exported WEEE in developing overseas countries, for instance, has to stop!
“Then there are the commercial repercussions. Waste crime reportedly costs the UK economy £568 million per annum, and diverts up to £1 billion away from legitimate business operations per year. Until we achieve a truly level playing field, I can’t help but fear that complete fulfilment of our resource agenda will remain nothing but a pipe dream.
“News of the extra £20m funding, however, could help turn this problem on its head, not least because it follows hot on the heels of fresh rules that will enable enforcement authorities to tackle waste crime more easily.
“In late October, new legislation came into effect to speed up prosecutions against non compliant waste operators. And the ability for English local authorities to enforce fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping, could prove another important part of the jigsaw, when the FPN is introduced next year.
“When resources are limited, policing of these rules could remain tough. But every little step we take, as a nation, to address the problem, rather than bury it, is a leap in the right direction.”