The Environment Agency and Hertfordshire Police are urging farmers and landowners to beware of a scam in which household and business waste is being illegally dumped on open land, camouflaged as plastic-wrapped hay bales.
The warning follows the discovery of around 1,500 bales of waste on a site at Waltham Cross after a search warrant was executed on land in Waltham Cross. The warning follows around 1,500 bales found at a site in Essex two weeks ago.
Officers from the Environment Agency are now concerned that further sites in the surrounding areas may be targeted in the same way. It is believed, criminals are making huge sums of money by charging to take away household or business waste but then dumping it at remote rural locations instead of using official permitted sites.
The rubbish is being compacted into plastic wrapping, capable of holding about half a ton. These are taken to fields or open land and built into haystack shapes, to give the impression that they are seemingly ‘normal' plastic bags used by farmers to store hay, straw or silage.
Debbie Jones, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency, said:
"The discovery of these bales of rubbish is believed to be linked to a highly-organised criminal scam involving the disposal of household and business waste.Three men were arrested on suspicion of depositing and storing waste on an unpermitted site when police and the Environment Agency executed a warrant on land off on 1 May 2013. They were interviewed at Hoddesdon station before being bailed until 25 June 2013 by Environment Agency officers pending further enquiries.
"This is an emerging trend and follows on from the waste bales found in Essex a few weeks ago. We are now concerned that more bales may have been dumped elsewhere in and around Waltham Cross and we want to urge people to look out for these sites and report them to us.
"This is a form of fly-tipping but on a massive and organised scale. The bales are being stored to look like farmers' haystacks and the contents may only come to light if the bags tear. It is possible that during hot weather, the rotting refuse may release an odour which should help us to identify it.
"The waste includes all forms of household and business rubbish such as food waste, plastic and cans. They are being dumped and abandoned with total disregard for the environment, landowners and any member of the public who use the land.
"We urge any landowners, farmers, ramblers or dog walkers who find these sites to call us immediately on our 24-hour free incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60 or make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."