ENFORCEMENT agencies have joined forces in a bid to stop the Scottish Borders and other rural parts of Scotland being used as a cross-border dumping ground.

Waste crime is estimated to cost the UK economy around £600m a year and is known to include the illegal transport and dumping of waste by hauliers travelling from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But now illegal cross-border waste haulage and disposal is the target of a series of new multi-agency interventions.

The £3.8m Life Smart Waste Project clampdown is led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and co-funded by the European Union.

In tandem with police forces across Britain and the English, Welsh and Northern Irish environment agencies, the drive out waste crime initiative involves a series of road stops, site visits and awareness-raising activities to remind hauliers of their responsibilities and the laws.

Kath McDowall from SEPA’s Waste Crime Investigations Team told us: "Intelligence gathered by the Life Smart Waste Project indicates that waste is being hauled from England and Wales and illegally deposited in Scotland.

"Several companies are known to be involved and many of these are under investigation by SEPA’s Waste Crime Investigation Team for criminal offences.

"There are also indications of serious and organised crime group involvement in the transport, sale and disposal of illegal waste – so it’s vital that we work with partners across the UK to tackle this issue.

“Waste crime will not be tolerated and SEPA will, with its partners, pursue and take proportionate action against those who seek to profit from waste crime.”

Hauliers and building companies who ignore strict legislation can be hit with a fine of up to £40,000, the loss of their operating licence and even a jail sentence.

Agencies have been carrying out road checks on routes into Scotland in recent weeks.

The multi-agency team pulled vehicles coming from Northern Ireland on ferries last month as well as making stops on the A1 into the Scottish Borders and A74 (M) at Gretna earlier this month.

Waste crime flyers have also been distributed to service stations and truck stops either side of the England/Scotland border.

Lynsae Tulloch, Chief Operating Officer of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said: "Illegal waste management is a blight on our environment, our local communities and businesses.

"These illegal waste sites mean foul odours, water pollution, pest infestations and the increased risk of fire, which results in essential funds from the public purse being diverted to cover the clean-up costs.

“Critically, criminals involved in the illegal movement and disposal of waste are diverting income from legitimate operators, depriving them of turnover.

"Some haulage firms are also being used to transport waste to disposal sites – without them even knowing they’re involved in illegal activity."