Thursday 17 Apr 2014
Con men are preying on Welsh businesses by running illegal tyre-dumping scams which can leave innocent people thousands of pounds in debt.
And now victims have criticised the Government-funded body responsible for protecting the environment by claiming they are being punished for other people's crimes.
On tonight's edition of BBC Wales' current affairs programme Taro Naw (Tuesday 22 September, BBC Cymru Wales on S4C), people who have fallen foul of the con men share their stories.
The schemes take advantage of a recent EU directive which states that tyres can no longer be disposed of in landfill sites.
Garage owners are now responsible for making sure their excess tyres are disposed of within the law – which means making sure they are taken away for recycling.
But one north Wales businessman, Steve Marlow and his wife Amy, found a way of flouting the law for their own financial gain.
The Marlows would advertise themselves on the internet as a legitimate business picking up used tyres from garages across north Wales for a fee. He would then approach businesses or individuals with storage units on their land and arrange to store the tyres. The Marlows would then abandon the tyres and pocket the profits for themselves.
One woman in Towyn in north Wales was left with 20,000 tyres on her property.
She tells Taro Naw: "It's been a constant worry. Every morning you wake up and it's on your mind all the time. How can you get rid of the tyres?
"Because of the nature of what you've got here you can't just dump it or sell it on or burn it. The only way of getting rid of them is the legal way and get a company in."
Maria Burt was horrified to discover that the Environment Agency, the public body responsible for tacking environmental crime of this nature, expected her to foot the bill of more than £20,000 for clearing her own land.
Gwlithyn Owen from Denbighshire was another one of Steve Marlow's victims. She was left with more than 3,000 tyres on her property. She too was angry with the Environment Agency.
"The Environment Agency didn't help us, even though we helped them. It cost us three grand to get rid of all those tyres," she says.
"It makes you feel as if you wouldn't help them ever again. You'd rather deal with the problem yourself and just not bother letting them know."
Environment Agency officer Iwan Williams defends the authority's standpoint: "We are willing to work with the public to ensure that we dispose of these tyres in a responsible way. But the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay for the disposal of tyres from private land."
Meanwhile Taro Naw's investigation reveals that the Marlows had escaped arrest by fleeing to Majorca, where they have ignored the programme's efforts for a response to the allegations being made against them.
It is estimated that it costs local authorities in the UK around £1.65million a year to clear illegally disposed tyres.
Taro Naw, Tuesday 22 September 2009, BBC Cymru Wales on S4C, 9.30pm
BBC Wales Communications
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