Almost one million pounds has been confiscated from environmental criminals in Wales in the last six years, new statistics from Natural Resources Wales reveal.
More than 20 people convicted of a range of environmental offences have had their assets confiscated since the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) was first used here in 2008, with another £1 million in the process of being recovered.
These include an illegal scrap metal operator in Penllergaer, near Swansea who was ordered to pay more than £170,000. This resulted in him having to sell the land where he carried out his illegal operation.
And a businessman who ran a skip hire firm in Denbigh was given two orders totalling more than £70,000 between 2012 and 2014.
He was convicted in 2012 of illegally depositing waste which resulted in a confiscation order of £35,000.
Then in 2014, he was convicted of further offences and was ordered to pay another £39,000.
Richard Siddons, Head of Technical Services, Natural Resources Wales said:
"Reducing waste crime is a priority for us and PoCA is an important tool we have at our disposal. It deprives criminals of the wealth obtained from their illegal activities, helps prevent re-offending, disrupts criminality and reassures legitimate operators that strong action is being taken against their illegal counterparts.
"The use of PoCA is a significant deterrent to offenders and has a significant impact. Its use is only applied by the courts after rigorous assessment to establish whether the conditions of the legislation are met.
"The court process also needs to be engaged where confiscation orders are not paid.
"However, we will continue to pursue the enforcement of confiscation orders to protect both the environment and the interests of legitimate waste operators in Wales."
The total criminal benefit – the money deemed to have been made from illegal waste activity – made from these orders totals more than £18 million.
The amount confiscated, which is calculated on the value of assets deemed to be available to the defendants to meet those orders, is more than £2 million.
So far £800,000 has been recovered by HM Courts Services and paid to the Home Office.
In line with Home Office guidelines, some of the money recovered can be used for crime reduction initiatives including targeted projects to reduce environmental crime or community projects that deliver environmental outcomes in communities affected by environmental waste crime.