The EA says it is still finding “almost the same number of new illegal waste sites as it manages to shut down”.
In fact, the number of illegal waste sites active in England and Wales has increased over the last three years. In the financial year 2018 to 2019, it stopped illegal waste activity at 912 sites, 12% more than the previous year. However, it also found 896 new illegal waste sites, 5% more than the previous year. In comparison, almost 10 years ago in 2009/2010, the EA stopped activity at 876 illegal waste sites, and found 882 new ones.
The top three types of waste found at illegal sites in this period were household and commercial waste, construction and demolition waste and end-of-life vehicles.
The EA inspected 926 containers in 2018/2019, with 236 being returned to their site of loading. In doing so the EA prevented the illegal export of 12,690 tonnes of unsuitable waste. If the waste had been shipped and it had been required to be repatriated, the cost to the UK would have been an estimated £1.1 million, it states.
Despite this, inspection numbers were actually down in 2018/2019, with 84 less checks carried out compared to the previous year. In 2017/18 the EA saved £1.3m through stopping illegal exports.