15 March, 2017
The illegal dumping of waste on roadside verges, in farm gateways, up bridleways and footpaths, and in lay-bys, remains a major issue, and this was confirmed by the release of official Defra figures last week.
They showed that in 2015-16, local authorities dealt with more than 100,000 incidents of fly-tipping across our region. Since many incidents may go unrecorded – in that the waste is cleared up by landowners – the actual figure is likely to be considerably higher. In some cases, tons of rubbish is being dumped in the countryside and in and around towns and villages.
There was a lot of local media interest in this, after the CLA responded to the Defra figures, and I was interviewed by four separate radio stations – including one national station – on the subject.
I emphasised the cost to the rural business sector of clearing up fly-tipped waste, given that landowners are faced with having to clear up other people’s waste dumped on their land. If they don’t clear up rubbish on their land, they can face prosecution for illegal storage of waste, which is grossly unfair.
I also pointed out that local councils across England are now having to spend nearly £50 million of taxpayers’ money each year to deal with fly-tipped rubbish, money that should be being spent on council services rather than clearing up illegally dumped rubbish.
We’d like to see the Environment Agency, the police, and local authorities taking tougher action against fly-tippers. There are powers available to issue fixed-penalty fines, and to seize and crush vehicles, which we think should be used much more. Sometimes it costs more to bring an offender to court than the fine that’s eventually charged. We’d also like to see more time and resources put into reducing what is, after all, an environmental crime.
Whenever I’ve been asked for an interview on fly-tipping, I also try to encourage the public to be more careful if they are paying a waste firm to remove rubbish – they should always check that the firm is a registered waste carrier, they should ask where the waste is going to be taken, and they should take details of the vehicle. Many people don’t realise that if their waste is illegally dumped and is then traced back to them, they will be prosecuted and could be fined up to £5,000.
Businesses should take the same precautions, and should also complete Waste Transfer Notes for all waste being taken away. If they then don’t keep these notes for two years, and are asked for them by the council or the Environment Agency, they can also be prosecuted and fined.
If you see fly-tipping in progress, don’t approach the culprits, but take a note of the vehicle’s registration number and its description, the time and the location. You can report it to the police, since it’s a crime in progress, but if you don’t want to do that, at least tell the local council about it. We should all do what we can to help – fly-tipping is costing us all a lot of money!
CLA members experiencing incidents of fly-tipping can contact the CLA East office on 01638 590429 for further advice.