Illegal waste sites were uncovered during the largest one-day sting carried out jointly by the Environment Agency and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Illegal activity was uncovered on May 23 at more than 27 waste sites across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire.
Officers found four sites where waste had been burnt illegally, a further four which were actively and illegally treating and transferring waste, and a number containing construction and demolition waste, vehicle parts and household waste.
Among the rubbish officers observed shredded plastics, soil, rubble, scrap metal, tyres, pallets and, at one site, a number of discarded toilets.
Some of the sites contained overflowing skips and more than 5,000 tonnes of waste being stored illegally.
A total of 54 sites were visited by officers; of them, half were found to be operating within the law. Those that were not will receive written guidance from the Environment Agency clarifying the steps they must take and follow-up visits will be arranged to make sure the site operators comply.
The sites have not been named
Pete Stark, Environment Agency enforcement team leader, 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.”
Evidence gathered from the visits will be used against those breaking the law.
Further enforcement action could include work with local authorities, the police and HMRC to prevent and disrupt crime, the serving of notices to have waste removed from land and prosecution of offenders. If convicted of illegal waste activity, offenders face unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.
Earlier this year EA 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 currently under formal investigation.
More information on the requirements for disposing of business or commercial waste can be found on gov.uk.
Illegal sites were confirmed in:
. Lincolnshire - Colsterworth, Great Gonerby, Long Bennington, Stamford, Long Sutton, Grimsby
. Northamptonshire - Corby, Northampton, Kettering, Rushton
. Leicestershire - Foxton, Mowsley, Skeffington
. Cambridgeshire - Wisbech