The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is launching a fresh appeal for information as part of an ongoing investigation into waste crime in Johnstone.
A large amount of waste has allegedly been deposited at an illegal site in the area. Not only can this be unsightly, but it can also result in environmental impact with the release of harmful gases and liquids as biodegradable waste degrades over time.
SEPA officers joined partners from Police Scotland, Revenue Scotland and HMRC on Tuesday 21 February 2023 for a Day of Action, carrying out inspections in the area and appealing to local residents and businesses to report instances of illegal dumping or suspected activity to help shape the ongoing investigation.
John Higgins, Senior Enforcement Operations Manager at SEPA, said: “We’re asking members of the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to us. This could be unusual vehicle movement or activity at unused sites. Landowners should also be alert to the risk of their land or premises being used for illegal waste deposits.
“Not only does waste crime have a serious impact on the environment, communities and legitimate businesses, but it also costs taxpayers tens of millions of pounds a year for clean-ups, avoided tax and lost revenue.
“Criminals involved are resourceful, inventive and will find new ways to break the law – especially when money is involved. But SEPA will continue to adapt as well, working closely with other agencies. We’re also making increased use of technologies to detect criminal activity and build the most accurate picture possible.”
Members of the public can also support the fight against waste crime by stopping criminals getting their hands on waste in the first place. Households and businesses have a duty to ensure the waste they produce is disposed of legally.
While platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are often used by legitimate service providers, SEPA has noted an increase in unregistered waste carriers offering to collect household and industrial waste, usually at a reduced rate.
John Higgins added: “If services sound too good to be true, they probably are – and could lead to waste being illegally fly-tipped or disposed of by other illegitimate means.
“People can play their part by checking the person offering to pick up household or business waste is a registered waste carrier on SEPA’s website and that the waste will be taken to a licensed site.”
Criminals carrying out these activities face significant consequences and those caught risk a criminal conviction, a fine and imprisonment. SEPA can also issue Variable Monetary Penalties of up to £40,000 as an enforcement tool.
To report any suspected illegal waste disposal activity, members of the public can contact SEPA in confidence 24 hours a day, seven days a week at www.sepa.org.uk/report or by calling 0800 80 70 60.