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August 2007

New rules improve UK’s handling of illegal waste exports

London— The range of powers available for controlling the export of waste from the UK has been widened by new regulations made by Parliament in June.

The Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007 set out offenses and penalties, and designate the responsible enforcement authorities.

They extend the range of people against whom enforcement action can be taken to include any transporter, freight forwarder or any other person involved in the shipment of waste. Under the previous regulations enforcement action was restricted to the person who notified the shipment, or the person who should have notified it.

The new regulations strengthen the powers of the enforcement authorities by providing a wider range of tools, including the power to serve notices on operators to request compliance with controls.

These include:

  • Information notices, requiring further information on the destination of a shipment, or details of the waste;
  • Enforcement notices, requesting compliance with controls;
  • Prohibition notices, prohibiting the movement of a shipment in breach of the controls.

Non-compliance with a notice will be an offense.

Authorities have also been given a power to seize waste, as a last resort in cases where there is an immediate risk to human health or the environment or where an operator is in breach, or looks likely to breach a notice.

A revised UK Plan on Shipments of Waste will be published shortly, setting out policies on the import and export of waste from the UK for disposal.