06 Aug 2020
In response to a rise in the level of fly tipping offences and illegal waste sites cropping up across the Amman Valley area, where waste is being illegally dumped, and information from a Natural Resources Wales led investigation into a site in the Garnant area, Dyfed-Powys Police recently ran an operation to tackle the issue.
A partnership response was required, therefore the multi-agency ‘Op Waverley’ was initiated and carried out in the Garnant, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Brynamman and Rhosamman areas. Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot County Councils raised concerns in respect of the significant rise in sites that are not permitted or regulated operating in the Amman Valley. As they are unregulated, there are no controls in place as to the type and volume of waste being dumped.
Inevitably, this illegal waste is subsequently burnt to reduce its volume and get rid of it, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are regularly called out to deal with these fires. This year alone fire crews from Mid and West Wales have attended 329 deliberate refuse fires. In fact they have responded to approximately 19 incidents at one location alone in the area this year. The majority of these incidents that the fire service responded to were reported by residents living in and around the area, who were affected by noxious smoke entering their homes and impacting upon their quality of life and health.
These illegal waste sites and resultant burning also have an adverse impact on the local environment in these communities. The operation therefore aimed to target, stop and take enforcement action against illegal waste carriers operating in the area. Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team and Response officers, Carmarthenshire Roads Policing officers, and South Wales Police officers set up three road check sites close to the county boundaries, where they stopped and checked any vehicle suspected to be carrying waste. This was in order to disrupt and deter illegal waste carriers heading to these sites.
Carmarthenshire County Council and Neath Port Talbot County Council waste enforcement teams, along with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service Arson Reduction Team were also present to support the action. The local authority waste enforcement teams provided drivers with advice around waste carrier licences. As a result of this roadside operation, 45 vehicles were stopped and checked, and a number of advisory warnings were issued to carriers for minor breaches of the waste carrier legislation. The Roads Policing Unit also issued a number of Traffic Offence Reports for construction and use offences relating to the condition of the vehicles.
Richie Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Waste crime continues to pose a real challenge to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Every year we attend hundreds of refuse fires and we are seeing a very clear and obvious link between deliberate refuse fires, fly tipping and the operation of illegal waste sites. Waste crime has a real adverse impact upon our communities, environment and quality of life for those affected by these illegal activities and every time we attend one of these fires it can impact upon our response in attending other life threatening emergencies. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is determined to reduce deliberate fires and keep our communities safe. We can only do so effectively by working collaboratively with our partners. This operation was a great success and we are looking forward to repeating similar operations across our service area.”
David Morgan, senior waste regulation officer, for Natural Resources Wales, added: “Natural Resources Wales takes its regulating waste sites across Wales very seriously, to maintain the safety of residents and our environment. We can not do this alone and working closely with police is integral to making sure laws around the disposal and treatment of waste are upheld. “Before this police-led operation, we provided advice on the legalities of the handling and treating of waste. We’re now working with Dyfed-Powys Police to assess further reports of illegal waste activities. “We have carried out an investigation at one particular site in the Garnant area looking at the types of waste that were routinely being brought into the site for disposal. The outcome of this investigation is pending.”
For further information and guidance on disposing of waste safely, legally and responsibly, visit the Fly Tipping Action Wales website: https://flytippingactionwales.org/en/advice/duty-of-care