Flytippers could face jail sentences as part of a new government-led war against litter.
A new task force has been set up to tackle “serious and organised” waste crime, including dumping hazardous materials on private land and falsely labelling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries.
According to the government, serious and organised waste crime is estimated to cost the UK economy at least £600 million a year.
A review by the Home Office in 2018 also found that perpetrators are often linked to other serious criminal activity, including large scale fraud and modern slavery.
In October a Tory MP called for flytippers to be ‘garrotted with their own intestines’.
Sir Desmond Swayne MP for New Forest West in Hampshire, said: “The New Forest is being desecrated by people fly-tipping.
“Will she (Environment secretary Theresa Villers) have a word her colleagues in the Ministry of Justice to ensure that we’re more robust with respect to punishments?
“Perhaps garrotting them with their own intestines?”
Toby Willison, Chair of the JUWC Board, said today: “The war against waste crime just took a giant step forward. The launch of this new unit means we now have a full complement of partners across law enforcement as well as our counterparts in Scotland and Wales to bring down waste criminals for good.
“We will target serious and organised criminals across the country as they try to illegally exploit the waste industry and the environment. These criminal gangs need to know that we have them in our sights.”
The new unit builds on existing efforts by the Environment Agency’s (EA) to tackle waste crime.
Last year, the agency’s dedicated team stopped illegal waste activity at 912 sites and prosecutions taken by the Environment Agency led to fines of almost £2.8million for businesses and individuals for environmental offences in 2018.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Waste crime is a scourge on our environment and this new Joint Unit for Waste Crime will crack down on the criminals responsible.
“Criminals are shifting their focus to waste crime as they expand their illegal activities and it’s vital that we take action.
“The Joint Unit will shut down illegal waste sites, catch criminals before they can do further harm to our environment and local communities, and make them pay for the damage they have done through custodial sentences and the payment of compensation.”
Launched on Thursday, the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) will carry out site inspections and arrests, as well as pushing for prison sentences and heavy fines for those who are convicted.
The JUWC brings together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HMRC and the National Crime Agency.