By Claire West

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has dismantled and closed down 27 laundering plants capable of producing 140 million litres of illicit fuel costing taxpayers of £90m a year in lost taxes.

A by-product of the laundering process is tonnes of a highly toxic waste that is dumped indiscriminately with no care for the harm it causes to the environment. The waste is usually dumped in the countryside to avoid detection.

It is estimated that these 27 laundering plants could have produced up to 140,000 litres of toxic waste, enough to fill around 700 wheelie bins. A tonne of waste costs around £1,000 to clean up - funding that has to come from the taxpayer.

Pat Curtis, HMRC Specialist Investigations, said:

“Laundered fuel is unregulated and dangerous and its profits fund organised crime. These staggering figures show that people involved in fuel laundering have a complete disregard for the harm it does to communities. Fuel fraud is a significant threat to the economic, social and environmental welfare of the UK. HMRC will continue to detect those attempting to smuggle, launder, sell or use illicit fuel. Anyone with any information about suspected fuel fraud should contact the Custom’s Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”