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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
EU waste rules fuel fly-tip fears
Landfill site, AP
Materials cannot simply be dumped in the same hole
New waste disposal rules came into force on Friday, amid fears they will lead to whole-sale fly-tipping.

Hazardous and non-hazardous waste can no longer be dumped in the same place, as part of a drive to reduce the amount of waste produced and buried.

From now on, businesses will have to treat their own hazardous waste to render it harmless, or take it to special designated disposal sites.

But there is concern the extra time and cost will drive some to dump illegally.

Rising cost

UK environment minister Elliot Morley says he is confident industry will rise to the challenge.

However, he has stressed that unscrupulous operators, who try to cut corners, will not be tolerated.

"I want this country to end its 'dump and forget' culture. The public and industry alike need to understand that we cannot continue to dump hazardous waste in holes in the ground," he said.

The government has said that cheap landfills are no longer an option and, with the cost of transporting and disposing of hazardous waste set to rise, it will now be down to individual firms to reduce and recycle their waste - rather than rely on landfill sites.

"For years now, cheap landfill has been the most attractive option for the disposal of waste," said Mr Morley. "Prices are going to rise and if people are not prepared to pay then they can expect unlimited fines and up to fives years' imprisonment."

Heavy fines

But many businesses will not welcome the new expense - in both time and money - of hazardous waste disposal.

The number of eligible sites for hazardous waste treatment will fall from more than 200 to around 10, with no facilities in Wales or the South East.

The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of failing to be clear about the changes.

"It is scandalous that the government has known that it needed to act on hazardous waste since 1999," Lib Dem MP Sue Doughty said. "Yet days before the new rules come into force, the businesses have not been informed of the change."

The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"There will only be a handful of sites equipped to take the most dangerous material"

Report criticises landfill policy
07 Jul 04  |  Oxfordshire
Less rubbish boosts council funds
16 May 04  |  Oxfordshire
Spy cameras to catch fly-tippers
23 Apr 04  |  Oxfordshire

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