One of the vehicles stopped and checked by officers (1)

More than 20 people are being investigated following an operation to tackle waste crime in Cheshire.

Vehicles and companies believed to be involved in illegal disposal or management of waste were targeted.

Officers pulled over target vehicles spotted via ANPR cameras, and performed stop checks near busy arterial routes into Cheshire.

Everything from small commercial carriers to large HGVs were stopped to check if they were transporting waste and if they had correct licences and paperwork.

In total, more than 100 vehicles were pulled over during the multi-agency operation with Environment Agency and local councils.

More than 10 of them were seized and more than 50 tickets were issued for a range of offences.

Sergeant Rob Simpson, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “Waste crime is a big problem across the country.

“It causes significant environmental and public health problems, blights local communities and drains the UK economy of hundreds of millions of pounds a year in clean-up costs and lost tax revenues.

Stop checks were carried out near to particularly busy arterial routes into Cheshire (1)

Stop checks carried out near busy arterial routes into Cheshire

“Those involved in waste crime are often involved in other serious criminal activity, including large scale fraud and in some cases modern slavery.

“We have been liaising with the Environment Agency to identify and tackle organised crime groups and anyone else who breaks the law by conducting unlicensed collection, transportation and disposal of waste, including toxic waste.

“Acting on the intelligence gathered, target vehicles and companies were located and stopped during the five-day operation, called Operation Permits.

“Any other vehicle with the capacity to transport waste illegally was also stopped and checked.

“The operation was a success and we will continue to target those who use our roads to commit waste crime.”

Both large and small ‘fly-tipping’ illegal waste disposal was targeted during the operation.

Nigel Glasgow, Cheshire’s Environment Agency area manager, said: “We would like to remind all householders they have a duty of care to check that anyone taking away their waste is registered as a waste carrier with the Environment Agency.

“This includes hired builders and contractors who offer to take the waste away as part of their service.

“There are some tell-tale signs to be mindful of when dealing with a waste operator.

“Is the waste business only advertising on social media? Are the rates significantly cheaper? Are they insisting on being paid in cash only? These are some of the signs for a business operating illegally.

“As a householder or business owner, you have a responsibility to check the legitimacy of anyone collecting waste from you.

“Anyone with concerns about illegal or suspicious activity in your area should contact the police on 101.

“Environmental incidents can be reported to the Environment Agency 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 807060.”

Cllr Mick Warren, cabinet member for communities at Cheshire East Council, said: “The council has issued repeated messages about the actions it is taking to clamp down on such illegal activity across the borough.

“We are working with our partners to try to achieve a healthy and clean environment for the people of Cheshire East through enforcement and via education and awareness campaigns.

“Illegal waste disposal is a serious offence, which can lead to a maximum £50,000 fine and/or prison, and the council will act where there is evidence to bring about a prosecution.

“Unfortunately, the nature of waste crime – sometimes carried out under darkness or in isolated spots – means that it can be more difficult for enforcement officers to catch those responsible.

“That is why the council continues to work closely with partner agencies and members of the public to provide any eye-witness account of fly-tipping, or other illegal waste disposal, which could lead to prosecution.

“This sort of environmental crime simply will not be tolerated.”

People can report fly-tipping or other waste crime at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/environment/street_cleansing_and_litter/street_cleansing_and_litter.aspx

waste - Officers stop and search a van during the operation (1)

Officers stop and search a van during the operation

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