Stirling, Scotland — Scotland’s first environmental waste crime conference was held in Edinburgh, bringing together key agencies and organisations to look at the scale and extent of waste crime in Scotland, and how to tackle it. The event was organised by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on behalf of the Environmental Crime Taskforce (ECTF) which was set up by Scottish Government and consists of SEPA, Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Solace, HMRC and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) announced two key pieces of work that demonstrate the importance of working together in order to tackle environmental crime.
The first is a new project funded through the European Commission LIFE Programme, which will tackle and improve understanding of how illegal waste markets behave and how to tackle this criminal behaviour.
The Smarter Regulation of Waste in Europe – Life SMART waste project will enable environmental bodies to set intelligence objectives around shared areas of concern, then work together identify and tackle illegality. It which will also involve Natural Resources Wales, The Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and sustainable Resource management (ACR+) and the Brussels Institute for the Management of the Environment. The project will continue until May 2019.
Calum MacDonald, Chair of the ECTF and Executive Director at SEPA, underlined: “Good work is already being done in Scotland to identify those responsible and break the supply chains, but we must adapt as fast as the criminals do. Waste is a global resource, and it needs a response that works across borders. By coming together with experts from across the UK and Europe, including those legitimate operators who are seeing their businesses damaged by this criminal element, we have a valuable opportunity to share experiences and examine ways to combat this serious threat.”
Detective Chief Superintendent John Cuddihy, Head of Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism at Police Scotland, argued: „Organised Crime Groups know no boundaries; they are driven by supply and demand and environmental crime is one of the areas they are diversifying into. To them, it’s all about profit. They obtain multi million pound contracts and by avoiding paying tax, or dealing with the health and safety costs associated with the responsible disposal of waste, their profit margins are huge.“
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead added: „Scotland’s magnificent environment is one of our greatest assets. Any criminal activity that threatens this is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. The Environmental Crime Taskforce (ECTF) partners are working together to address this threat.“
Source: Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)