The Environment Agency (EA) have issued a warning to land owners in Surrey over baled waste crime.

The EA, which is a non-departmental government body, warned today (June 5) that 'baled waste crime' is on the increase across Surrey and Kent and urged land owners to be vigilant in efforts to combat the rise in the little-known criminal activity.

According to EA, baled waste crime is the "large scale dumping of baled waste on privately owned sites."

Baled waste is typically plastic, building, commercial or household rubbish that can't be recycled and which has no monetary value.

The waste is compressed into a block or ‘bale’ and concealed by plastic strapping.

EA said that many instances of dumping this kind of waste across the South East, including Surrey, have occurred over the last two years.

Alan Cansdale, Environment Manager for the Environment Agency, said the scale of the problem was that of "systematic and organised crime."

"These criminal offences have not been random or opportunistic dumping of waste, but rather systematic and organised crime where secure sites have been targeted using what appears to be legal and above board measures through the property and land leasing process."

"Most of the sites have been cleared at great expense to the landowners, with one site alone costing in excess of £200,000 in clean-up costs," Mr Cansdale said.

The EA said that Wednesday's warning marked the start of a campaign they were leading to combat baled waste crime.

Among the comprehensive advice the EA published (see below) they recommend farmers and other landowners "vigorously check" the credentials of any new tenants and ensure that any waste operations carried out on their property are done with the appropriate permits.

The Agency said that it hoped to encourage landowners to become more vigilant at spotting the signs of illegal dumping and protect their property against being targeted.

"The deposit sites include leased and rental properties where the criminals provide false details to secure warehouse space, barns or open land on industrial estates, farms or private property — with articulated trailers on public roads or car parks being targeted as well," an EA spokesperson said.

Rural union leaders came out in support of the EA's message.

Tom Ormesher, Environment and Land Use Adviser for the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the South East, said that the NFU was supporting the campaign.

"We are keen to raise awareness among our membership about the horrendous impacts of this type of organised waste crime," he said.

"By following tips from the Environment Agency, farmers can take some steps to protect themselves from these scammers and avoid being landed with a huge waste problem and a bill that could run to thousands of pounds," Mr Ormesher added.

Meanwhile Robin Edwards, South East Regional Director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) added that organization's support for EA's campaign.

Mr Edwards echoed the EA's message for landowners to be extra vigilant in light of the baled waste phenomenon.

"We wholeheartedly welcome this campaign, as it addresses a growing problem which has a serious impact on landowners and the environment in our region.

"We would urge landowners and rural communities to be extra vigilant, be extremely wary around any requests or offers to store waste, and report any incidents or suspicious activity to the Environment Agency," he said.

To read the government's report and latest advice on tackling baled waste crime, go to: