Councils fight back against fly-tipping
We’ve written several times before how fly-tipping is threatening to get out of control in many parts of the country. Cuts to council budgets mean that many do not have the money to fund the environmental protection staff needed to prevent both individuals and businesses from dumping their waste on both public and private property.
For the most part, fly-tipped waste is of a commercial nature, often by unscrupulous traders looking to avoid the landfill tax. And occasionally it’s hazardous waste that’s dumped in sensitive areas as environmental criminals refuse to pay specialist handling costs.
Fly-tipping is costing millions of pounds, and authorities are finally realising that investing in protection staff is an investment worth making, as their presence saves many times their staff costs on money that would be spent of cleaning up waste.
One success story is in South Derbyshire, which has seen incidents of fly-tipping plummet in the last year, thanks to vigilance not only from staff but also from members of the public. Their annual clearance costs as a result of fly-tipping has also fallen to less than £40,000. This is all the result of a no-nonsense approach to the problem, with a free fly-tipping hotline for the public to report suspicious behaviour, fix penalty notices for those caught in the act, and police raids on unlicensed scrap businesses.
Vigilance is they key. It doesn’t take much for a site to become a fly-tipping hot-spot. Sheffield learned this to their cost recently, as the city’s former ski centre became a target for waste crime after it closed last year. Already dubbed one of the worst fly-tipping hot-spots, it’s now taking a concerted council campaign to prevent the site becoming any worse than it already is.
Many councils now have advice on fly-tipping prevention on their websites, so it’s worth taking a look to know who to contact, and find out what to do. The key is to remember that repeat fly-tippers are criminals, so do not approach, but take details from a safe distance.
However, council vigilance can go too far. Locals in one Derbyshire town complained to the press after council officials mistook their Guy Fawkes bonfire for fly-tipped rubbish, cleared the site and left pointed notices saying “We are watching you”. It’s pleasing to know that the authority in question is taking dumped rubbish seriously, but that’s taking things a little too far.
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