New waste dumping scam affecting farmers

Arguably worse than fly-tipping, there’s a growing trend of illegal waste dumping across Britain1. According to Nicky Lawton, Deputy Director for the National Enforcement Service; “waste crime costs the economy £604 million per year, and is a serious problem that we’re using all our available resources and power to curb.”1 And now there’s evidence of a new form of waste dumping targeting you and your land.

What is this new scam and how does it work?

Instead of fly-tipping, scammers have found a way to place the burden of disposal on someone else.

Mark Rumble from The Environmental Agency explained how this works at The Bishop Burton 2018 Conference:

Typically, someone arrives at your farm, explaining that a nearby road is to be re-surfaced with a new rubberised product that comes in wrapped bales.

They ask if the bales can be delivered and stored on your land before the work starts and agree a fee for storage. The typical fees are £2-3000 for you and 6 months up-front rent for warehousing.

The product is delivered, you’re paid, and then nothing happens.

Later on, you discover that the product is in fact RDF - Refuse Derived Fuel - compressed household waste that’s only suitable for landfill. Disposal will cost you £110 per bale and scammers can leave around 200 bales at a time. Leaving you with a disposal fee of £22k! This can be even worse if the material isn’t discovered before it begins to decompose. This can result in clean-up costs and put you and your farm at risk of criminal prosecution for failing to operate with an environmental permit2.

This is happening throughout England and it’s leaving landowners with tonnes of waste that they cannot afford to dispose of. In addition, the Government won’t support claims for financial assistance, the responsibility sits with you, the landowner.

Why farmers must be careful

The areas most susceptible to illegal dumping recorded by the Environmental Agency since 2016 are:

  • Farms 34%
  • Industrial Units 24%
  • Abandoned factory 10%
  • Derelict sites 7%3.

As a farmer, you must be more vigilant in protecting your farm from this risk. As not only will you have to pay the financial burden of this scam, this waste material can also be damaging to your crops and animals. The waste material dumped can often be toxic, representing a pollution risk as well as a potential fire hazard.

Scammers are luring farmers in with cash up front, knowing that they are getting away with not paying a large amount for the proper disposal of the material.

What is being done about this scam?

The problem is being tackled by the Environmental Agency. They’re trying to get to the gang-leaders who’re saving millions from this crime ring. However, it can be difficult to identify everyone involved as scammers often use unsuspecting third party hauliers to carry out deliveries.

If you suspect any illegal activity, the EA recommends contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Remember the old saying applies that ‘if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is!’


1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-agency-warns-of-illegal-waste-being-dumped-empty-commercial-units
2. https://www.gov.uk/managing-your-waste-an-overview
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-agency-warns-of-illegal-waste-being-dumped-empty-commercial-units