THE number of people sent to prison for serious waste crime has almost trebled in the last three years, according to a new report.
The Environment Agency’s annual waste report highlights cases such as that of Spalding man, Carl Steele, who dumped over one million tyres across England.
Steele, dubbed Million Tyre Man, was a con man, who put others’ health at risk because piles of tyres can catch fire.
He undercut legitimate and responsible recycling businesses and damaged their livelihood – making money and leaving others to clean up the mess.
He was one of 16 people jailed for a range of waste-dumping related crimes. in 2011
He is being used as an example by the Environment Agency to warn others who may be involved in large scale waste dumping that they will be caught.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Illegal waste sites are a blight on our communities which I am determined to root out.
“The new Illegal Waste Site Taskforce, funded by Defra, means these criminals have nowhere to hide and we will be relentless in tracking them down.
“These criminals should know we are coming for them and they will feel the full force of the law.”
And the Head of the Environment Agency’s National Environmental Crime Team Andrew Higham said: “Waste crime can cause pollution, pose risks to people’s health and undercut legitimate businesses.
“We’ve stepped up the fight and we are increasingly seeing waste offenders being made to pay for their crimes.”
As well as those sent to jail. more than 330 individuals and companies were also successfully prosecuted, as part of the agency’s crackdown.
There was also a rise in the number and size of financial penalties handed out to waste criminals.
Last year, courts issued £1.7million in fines – almost £8,000 more than the previous year – and confiscated a total of £2.2million of assets from criminals who made money through illegal waste activity.