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Council using social media to uncover illegal waste carriers

Picture shows waste from a previous incident in Neath Port Talbot

A man has been issued with a £300 fixed penalty notice in a multi-agency operation to uncover illegal waste carriers responsible for damaging the local environment through fly tipping.

Officers involved in Operation Torch, involving Neath Port Talbot Council, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MWWFRS) and South Wales Police, collaborated together to target potential unregistered waste carriers and other offences.

The fixed penalty notice was issued to a man who responded to an advertisement on Facebook posted by the council’s Waste Enforcement section to remove waste, which consisted of black bin bags, plastics and scrap metal, despite being unlicensed to do so.

While the removal of the waste went on, a marked police vehicle driven by a uniformed police officer, accompanied by a Waste Enforcement Officer, a Trading Standards Officer and a Scrap Licencing Officer were waiting nearby.

The purpose of the operation was to tackle the illegal depositing of controlled waste (an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s33) and the illegal transportation of controlled waste (Control Of Pollutions (Amendment) Act 1989 s1) which are high priority areas for local enforcement authorities and the fire service, as dumped waste often leads to fires.

The advertising of waste removal services also takes place on social media sites, where the Waste Enforcement section has identified that some who use these sites are operating as illegal waste operators and that the waste subsequently gets illegally deposited.

The operation was carried out to establish if those responding to the advertisement were licensed to carry waste and to prevent waste from being illegally deposited.

The operation also aimed to identify any potential offences under Trading Standards legislation such as Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, the Fraud Act 2006, Consumer Rights (Information, Cancelation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

Cllr Scott Jones, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene, said: “What was pleasing was that many of those who responded to the advert were fully licensed to carry out the waste removal service and we want to encourage licensed removers who are unfortunately being undercut by illegal carriers.

“However there are still too many unlicensed waste carriers blighting our towns, valleys, villages and countryside areas. With operations like this, our Waste Enforcement and Trading Standards officers enforce a wide variety of legislation helping protect consumers from harm, protecting legitimate trade from unfair competition and preventing damage to the environment.”

Terri Harrison of the MAWWFRS Arson Reduction team, added: “We are thankful for the work carried out by all agencies involved in this operation.

“MAWWFRS responds to hundreds of reports of refuse fires throughout the year and there is a very clear and obvious link between deliberate refuse fires, fly tipping and the operation of unlicensed waste carriers. It is a continual challenge for us and our partner agencies not forgetting the adverse impact it has on our communities.”