Fly-tipping: What you can do to stop it
Most people throw their rubbish in the bin without a second thought.
But you might know a few people that throw fast food bags, sweet wrappers and plastic bottles on the ground after they’ve finished with them. That’s called littering, and it’s not only a selfish thing to do, but it’s also illegal. If you’re caught, you could face a fine of about £100, depending where you live.
Unfortunately, there are people who take littering a step further. They’re people who dump whole sacks or whole van loads of rubbish in the street or out in the countryside in an act that’s known as fly-tipping.
Who are these people?
Most people who commit this crime are doing it because they don’t want to take their rubbish to the tip. Usually, it’s a rogue trader – a builder, plumber, or some other tradesman – who has sacks of rubbish at the end of a day’s work and want to get rid of it quickly.
They break the law because they don’t want to pay the landfill tax that all companies and traders have to pay to get rid of rubbish that’s not being recycled. Sometimes, they’re just being lazy because they know they might have to queue up to get their rubbish weighed. Other times it’s just because they don’t want to pay the fees.
What’s in their rubbish?
You might have seen piles of fly-tipped rubbish near where you live. It could be anything from old sofas and furniture to piles of rubble. Sometimes it’s tipped in industrial estates, sometimes on waste ground, but the worst are people who dump their rubbish in the countryside. A lot of rubble is dumped because it’s heavy and costs more to get rid of legally.
Sometimes this rubbish includes dangerous materials like asbestos or drums of chemicals. These usually need specialist handling, which means criminals will dump dangerous materials for somebody else to clean up.
Who pays for it?
Unfortunately, unless the culprit is caught, the cost falls on the person who owns the land. That means it’s usually farmers or local councils who have to clear up the mess, costing millions of pounds every year.
What can we do?
It’s best not to approach fly-tipped rubbish in case it’s dangerous. Report it to an adult, or your local council. They have an officer in charge of waste, and you can usually find their phone number or email address on the internet.
Don’t go near somebody if you catch them in the act. They’re breaking the law and might be dangerous. Try to memorise their vehicle registration number, so they can be reported to the police.
If caught, the law allows unlimited fines on the worst offenders because of the damage they’re doing to the countryside.
The law is so tough because it’s such a nasty and selfish crime. But it means that most traders dump their rubbish in the right place.