Inspectors from the Environment Agency, accompanied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) keen not to miss out on landfill tax, visited 54 waste sites across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire and found illegal activity at 27 of them.
They found four sites where waste had been burnt illegally, a further four that were actively and illegally treating and transferring waste, and a number containing construction and demolition waste, vehicle parts and household waste.
Some of the sites contained overflowing skips and more than 5,000 tonnes of waste being stored illegally.
Environment Agency enforcement team leader Pete Stark said: “We will be following up on every single site where we’ve found illegal activity so we can put a stop to activities that blight our neighbourhoods, our environment and our economy.
“Working closely with HMRC to investigate these reports from local communities has helped us strengthen our working relationship, identify sites of interest, and prevent and disrupt crime that puts people, wildlife and legitimate businesses at risk.
“We take waste crime extremely seriously, and formal investigations into these sites are now underway. We rely on intelligence from local communities to put a stop to waste crime, so if you have information about suspicious activity, report it to us by calling 0800 80 70 60.”
If convicted of illegal waste activity, offenders face unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.
Earlier this year Environment Agency officers in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire visited nearly 30 sites in a single day – uncovering illegal activity at 11. Across both counties, more than two dozen cases are under formal investigation.
Between 2011 and 2017 the Environment Agency shut down more than 5,500 illegal waste sites.