An industrial estate near Wrexham has been targeted by illegal waste dumping which has been linked to major organised crime.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has highlighted a case where a suspected criminal organisation dumped 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste at a unit on Llay Industrial Estate.
It warned that the storage of the highly-combustible bales almost caused a major fire, which was only prevented by the swift action of the building’s owner with advice from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Nick Thomas, North East Wales operations manager for NRW, said illegal dumping has a high value to criminal groups.
“Illegal waste is a major organised crime and worth millions and millions of pounds,” he said.
“What we are seeing is the import of baled-up waste being brought in and dumped in several locations.
“We’ve had some cases of that in Flintshire but Wrexham has been harder hit.
“People rented out a unit on Llay Industrial Estate and said they were going to keep wind farm parts in there temporarily, but then were bringing in lorry after lorry of baled-up waste.
“Luckily we heard when it was about half full and went in and managed to stop more lorries coming in.
“The building was getting full and we were very lucky there wasn’t a fire.
“We’ve worked with North Wales Police and traced it with other police forces to a company in north England and we’re hoping to bring them to court in the near future.”
Mr Thomas said the owners of the units are usually unaware of what is taking place when they rent their properties out to the gangs.
However, they can end up being footed with a large bill to have the waste removed.
The owner of the Llay premises had to pay a six-figure sum for it to be taken to the Hafod landfill in Ruabon.
Mr Thomas has also urged members of the public to report any signs of illegal dumping to NRW.
Addressing a meeting of Flintshire Council’s environment scrutiny committee yesterday, he said: “If you see this activity going on please report it to us as a lot of time we hear about it after the fact.
“Trying to get to the Mr Big at the back of it is often difficult and it’s a real tangled web.
“With China not being willing to import rubbish there’s going to be a bigger problem here.”
Generic images highlighting the issue of baled waste in Wales – Natural Resources Wales
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).