SEPA targets waste carriers in day of action

date10 April 2012

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has targeted waste carriers and waste management sites as part of a multi-agency day of action to tackle the increasing problem of metal theft in Scotland. The action was led by Scottish police forces and the British Transport Police, with a large number of both public and private organisations taking part in the operation.

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As Scotland's environmental regulator, SEPA's involvement in the initiative, known as 'Operation Fern', was to ensure compliance with all aspects of environmental legislation with regard to the transportation of waste metal and its processing.  This included possession of appropriate Waste Carriers Registrations, Scrap Metal Dealers licensing/exemptions and delivering the expected duty of care.

During the day of action (on 15 March), 128 vehicles known to transport controlled waste were targeted by SEPA. It was discovered that 50% of the vehicles carrying controlled waste at the time of being stopped were not registered waste carriers.  Officials also found that over 50% of the carriers, both registered and non-registered, were not delivering the necessary duty of care. As well as the activity around carriers, SEPA officers also visited 19 waste management sites to measure the level of compliance across a range of operators. After the visits, it was concluded that the majority of sites were complying with the necessary regulations, with only one site found to be in breach of its licence.

Commenting on the activity, Calum MacDonald, Director of Operations, at SEPA said:

"Metal theft is a growing problem in Scotland and badly affects the operations of businesses and organisations from all sectors. Our role, as Scotland's environmental regulator, in the day of action was to target the unlicensed carrying and processing of waste, which is a significant problem associated with metal theft.

"The outcomes of Operation Fern show that there is still a lack of understanding about the responsibilities for organisations involved in waste carrying and management. In order to tackle this issue, we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure much better compliance with legislation and target any organisations that breach environmental regulations."