Suspected illegal tyre sites in Yorkshire targeted by Environment Agency

9 February 2021
  • Illegal stockpiling of tyres increases the risk of fire
  • Environment Agency enforcement officers are undertaking random spot checks across Yorkshire in a bid to protect people and the environment

Illegal stockpiling of waste tyres is on the rise across Yorkshire, bringing with it a risk of fires that put communities and the environment at risk.

A fall in the value of used tyres combined with a significant increase in cost of export to markets such as India has seen a marked increase in illegal stockpiling of waste tyres across the region, often in an unsafe manner that increases the risk of fire.

Environment Agency enforcement officers are now carrying out random spot checks of businesses throughout Yorkshire in a bid to tackle the risk of a major fire incident associated with illegally stockpiled waste tyres.

Environment Agency area environment manager, Fran Lowe said:

We are urging garages and other businesses to ensure that their used tyres are being collected and disposed of by businesses registered and permitted to do so. Tyre collectors who charge low prices, irrespective of having a carriers licence, may be illegally stockpiling.

Because of the potential environmental harm, the storage, treatment and disposal of waste tyres is regulated by the Environment Agency, which has strict rules to prevent fires.

Tyre fires can lead to a significant risk of harm to people and the environment. Dense, polluting smoke can cause breathing difficulties and travel disruption as road and rail links are suspended. Water used to put out the fire can also lead to pollution of rivers and streams, killing aquatic insects and fish and the wildlife that depend upon them.

Fran Lowe continued:

Businesses that store and recover small quantities of waste tyres can register an appropriate waste exemption. These exemptions exist to ensure smaller companies are not over-burdened by red-tape, so long as they can demonstrate that they are storing tyres safely within the allowed limits.

However, for storage over and above the quantities allowed through a waste exemption, a business must apply to the Environment Agency for an Environmental Permit. This applies legally binding conditions governing how operations are managed to protect against a major fire.

Businesses that fail to register an appropriate waste exemption or environmental permit, or which are found in breach of the legally binding conditions of a waste exemption or Environment Permit are not only increasing the risk of a fire, they are committing a criminal offence, subject to enforcement action.

The Environment Agency takes proportionate action to bring businesses back into compliance and to prevent and disrupt criminal activity. This includes providing advice and guidance for businesses trying to do the right thing, issuing enforcement notices, and penalising businesses as a last resort.

  • The maximum penalty that can be imposed for a breach of environmental rules is a five year jail term or an unlimited fine.
  • Businesses seeking to find out how to manage their waste can call the Environment Agency on 0370 850 6506
  • If you have concerns about companies stockpiling waste tyres please contact the Environment Agency’s incident line 0800 807060

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