By Denna Bowman
Illegal shipments of thousands of old tyres have been intercepted before they could be transported from Scotland to West Africa.
Inspectors from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) have discovered four containers of old tyres, TV sets and other discarded consumer products which were due to be shipped to Nigeria and Ghana in the last five months.
The tyres were found on an industrial estate in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, earlier this year, while the broken televisions were discovered in industrial units in Glasgow.
A further shipment of tyres being sent to Nigeria from Scotland was halted last month at Felixstowe by Sepa’s sister body in England, the Environment Agency, after being alerted by Scottish officials.
Sepa experts warned that the consignments were part of a growing illegal trade in potentially hazardous waste that should be recycled in the UK.
But old tyres and TV sets, that are likely to cause health problems and pollution in the countries to which they are exported, can be sold for a profit to African traders.
Officials described the individuals behind the shipments as “waste tourists” who travel the UK finding waste products for export. Shipping waste without the appropriate licence is an offence that attracts an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.
However, Sepa said no legal action had been taken in these cases as the agency preferred to give the individuals involved an opportunity to follow the correct procedures.