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Warning against storing refuse derived fuel

rdf-defraNATURAL RESOURCES WALES (NRW) has warned farmers and land owners about storing illegal refuse derived fuel (RDF) on their property.

RDF is produced by shredding and dehydrating solid waste. It consists largely of combustible components of municipal solid waste such as plastics and biodegradable waste. Its storage, export and uses must be done in accordance with tight regulations imposed by Natural Resources Wales – due to the risks of inappropriate disposal, and the risk of fire and pollution if stored incorrectly. An environmental permit is required in order to store the waste legally.

The warning follows an increase in reports to Natural Resources Wales from landowners who have been approached in recent weeks, and a number of complaints are in the Carmarthenshire area. Organised Crime Groups posing as individuals acting alone, or operating under a company name, are offering landowners money to store large quantities of RDF (usually wrapped in bales), and claiming it is a temporary measure before the waste is sent for incineration. However, this is not the case and the landowners face persuasion or intimidation for the bales to remain on their property, and legislation holds them responsible for the storage and eventual expensive removal of the RDF, which could run into several thousands of pounds.

It is now believed that Organised Crime Groups are attempting to locate premises and land in the west Wales area where they can store the bales of RDF illegally – therefore landowners are being urged to be vigilant.

Geraint Richards, waste advisor at Natural Resources Wales, said: “We want to warn farmers and landowners that this underhand activity is on the rise both to protect their interests and the environment.

“While it may seem like a tempting proposition to make some extra cash, landowners could find themselves risking enforcement action, or substantial clean-up costs if the waste is abandoned by the perpetrators.”

Chief Inspector Ross Evans, deputy director of intelligence at Dyfed-Powys Police added: “We know that this has been an issue nationally for some time, but our intelligence now leads us to believe that these unscrupulous groups are trying to target West Wales, and we don’t want any farmers or landowners in our force area falling foul of this. We fully support Natural Resources Wales in their investigations, and would advise anyone who believes they’ve been approached in this manner to contact their incident hotline on 0300 807060, or if you feel intimidated or threatened in any way contact police by calling 101.”

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Jon Coles

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