Fly-tipping, what can be done about it?

The Reaches, Eye

It was welcoming to see our local MP take the fly-tipping debate to parliament this week. The illegal dumping of waste is the scourge of the countryside, especially close to large urban populations. It’s not only an eyesore but can be a health hazard, not to only to humans but wildlife as well. It isn’t unique to this area, you’ve only got to see this feed on the BBC website to see the extent of the problem. In an analysis of fly-tipping done in 2019 Peterborough was named the third worse place in the UK for fly-tipping.

All the photos on this page have been taken in the past two years around Eye and Newborough and can be used copyright and attribution free in stories relating to flytipping.

If you spot fly-tipped waste report it to Peterborough City Council: www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/saferpeterborough/fly-tipping-and-littering

Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. It’s a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates’ Court although the maximum fine is seldom used. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Despite this councils will more often than not give a fixed penalty notice due to the time and cost it takes to convict an individual. The size of these fines is at the local authorities discretion and can range from £150 to a maximum of £400.

In 2018/19 local authorities in England dealt with over 1 million (1,072,000) fly-tipping incidents, an increase of 8% from the 998,000 reported in 2017/18. Nearly two-thirds involved household waste.

From my experience fly-tipping falls under three categories:

Individual homeowners who dump rubbish as they are too lazy to take it to the recycling centre or don’t want to pay for it to be taken away legally. It can be a wide range of things from two or three black bags of garden waste to pieces of furniture or empty boxes.
Companies/Individuals doing garden work or house clearances, this could be a van or tipper load from a single job. Much of the waste being dumped stems from small-scale property developers or landlords who are attracted to the “cheaper” disposal rates offered by criminals. When someone moves out of a rented house quite a lot of stuff can be left behind. Some more unscrupulous landlords may dispose of these house contents illegally to save money. Also coming under this heading are businesses that would rather pocket the money than dispose of waste in the correct way.
Large scale illegal dumping – This would be lorry loads dumped illegally such as happened on the land of Andrew Ward, a farmer in Lincolnshire. Organised criminal groups are targeting the waste industry as they can undercut the legal waste removal companies then dump the rubbish illegally making a large profit in the process but leaving expensive cleanup bills for the landowners.

A few of the items you may find in the lanes around Eye and Newborough.

Asbestos is one of the more dangerous items found on the lanes, exposure causes cancers and other diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis. In reality, the individuals who transport this material are more at risk than anyone else, the fibres can also attach to work clothes, shoes and tools and be carried home putting other family members at risk. Just breathing in a few fibres can be harmful so it needs a specialist crew to come in and clean it up which is expensive. Once in the lungs, the fibres can remain there for a lifetime and most people don’t show any signs or symptoms of asbestos-related disease for 10 to 20 years or more after exposure.

Although not dangerous like asbestos, used compost from illegal cannabis farms has also been on the increase.

As Paul Bristow, our local MP says, “The lazy and the selfish want to make their waste somebody else’s problem” and we pay for much of this problem in our council tax.

Local councils will say they don’t have the resources to be proactive, but this can be a false economy. While the random nature of this crime makes it difficult to catch the perpetrators if there are no consequences to the individuals that dump the rubbish they are going to keep doing it and reversing that trend can be hard. Despite this Peterborough City Council (Aragon) are generally very good at clearing reported incidents of fly-tipping.

One good example of a proactive campaign is Harborough District Council’s Tip Off campaign, which aims to increase awareness of fly-tipping, and encourage reporting of it. The campaign has been nominated at the National Recycling Awards 2020 in two categories – ‘Campaign of the Year’ and ‘Local Authority Success’. They even did a pack for Parish Councils.

The cost of dumping waste legally can be expensive, with varying costs depending on the content. A transit load of builders waste could easily cost £200 to dump at a landfill site so by dumping illegally criminals can pocket this money themselves.

Just a few examples of flytipping from the past couple of years.

Residents can also be fined if our waste isn’t removed by a licensed company. If your waste is found fly-tipped, you can face penalties of up to £400 if you have no evidence that you made no attempt to verify that the person or company removing your waste is a licensed company. If someone else disposes of your rubbish make sure they have a waste licence and make sure you retain a copy of their name, address, vehicle description, vehicle registration number and get a receipt. If you are in any doubt as to whether someone is licensed, the Environment Agency has an online checker. This case is just one example of why it is so important.

The Household Recycling Centre in Fengate, Peterborough takes a wide range of waste. From 1 April to 30 September the centre is open from Monday to Sunday 8am – 6pm. From 1 October to 31 March the centre shuts at 4pm. ID is required when taking waste, it isn’t recorded, just checked to make sure you’re a resident from the Peterborough area.

In our area, the statistics show that Newborough has more incidents of flytipping than Eye or Thorney. On the heat map below Green Road to the north of Eye shows as a significant hotspot.

Peterborough flytipping heatmap. Red is worse.

What to do if you see someone fly-tipping

If you see someone fly-tipping, first of all, do not put yourself at any risk. Only if safe to do so, try and obtain as much information as possible.

  • Record the date, time and location of the incident.
  • If any vehicles are involved, note down the make, model, colour and any registration number. (Photos are useful but don’t take any risks). Also if possible how many people were involved and what they looked like.
  • Details of the amount and what was being fly-tipped. Just a visual look, do not go touch the rubbish as you may be exposed to dangerous/hazardous materials. Also if there are any addresses or other identifiable information in the pile do not touch it as evidence shouldn’t be tampered with.

Report the fly-tipping at: forms.peterborough.gov.uk .

So what can be done?

There is no one solution to this problem and it will always need a multifaceted appraoch.

  1. Enforcement. Catching those responsible and making an example of them by releasing their names to the press. Use resources such as covert cameras and work with the police to access ANPR. Give the police more power to stop and check vehicles loaded with waste. Work with residents to install CCTV. Courts should give bigger penalties that fit the crime.
  2. Education. Educating the public on the consequences of flytipping and the correct ways to dispose of rubbish. We seem to live in a country where a large minority seem to think it’s someone else’s responsibility to clean up after them.
  3. Larger fines. Making those that are caught feel it in their pocket. Increase the amount that local councils can fine residents for illegally flytipping. Make those that do it do community payback schemes that involve cleaning up rubbish.
  4. Learn. Learn from areas that have had success in reducing the level of flytipping.

Jeremy Emnet, chair of Barston Parish Council recently joined Jeremy Sallis on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and looked into their own solution by installing APNR and CCTV with support from their local council.

Jeremy Emnet, Barston Parish Council on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis

 

Task and Finish group to examine the issue of fly-tipping

In 2018 the Peterborough City council put together a Task and Finish group which included Richard Brown, one of the Eye, Thorney and Newborough Ward councillors to examine the issue of Fly Tipping.

The Task and Finish Group made the following recommendations:

7.1

Waste Collection and Facilitation

Short Term Action
  • Improve digital access to Household Recycling Centre (HRC) permit applications to speed up the process of obtaining one, and simplify their use on site.

7.2

Education and Prevention

Short Term Action
  • Development of a Communications and Engagement Action Plan taking into account different types of fly-tipping across rural and urban settings and different people’s needs – tailored engagement considering different groups needs across the city as required
  • Join the Keep Britain Tidy campaign – circa £2,000 per annum, making use of the networking and learning opportunities and look at adapting the available resources to the needs of Peterborough in a communications campaign, circa £5,000 pa.
  • Employ the use of ‘crime scene’ style barrier tape around fly-tipping incidents to highlight that we are aware and action is being taken. Estimate £2,000 to supply an initial supply of rolls to be replaced as required dependant on use.
  • Improve information to small businesses, through contact with the Federation for Small Businesses, Trade Counters etc., look for external sources of funding to cover costs. Website hosting information on fly-tipping and options for safe and legitimate waste management routes, possibly funded by sponsorship
  • Use of social media for engagement on a regular light-touch basis so messages remain current in people’s minds, e.g. sponsored Facebook Messages, advertisements explaining about need to check carrier licences Duty of Care etc.
  • Examine the capacity for nominated officers to monitor Facebook for people seeking waste collection services to comment and highlight responsibilities and routes for legitimate waste collection or disposal.
  • Link with Integration Strategy – vox pops to cover waste
  • Local media campaign to link with the new duty of care of legislation.

7.3

Enforcement and detection

Short Term Action
  • 6 x infrared cameras to provide coverage in each area £6000
  • Review the current process of enforcement to seek improvements to its effectiveness aiming to move to a one visit resolution where possible.
  • Publicise successful convictions as part of a wider information dissemination exercise.

7.4

Waste Collection and Facilitation

Medium/Long Term Action
  • Examine longer site opening times for the new site and how trailer access may be improved over that available at the Dogsthorpe site.
  • Examine feasibility one or more satellite HRC sites to assist in busy times of the year, not necessarily for the whole range of materials, e.g. garden waste and recycling only.
  • Improve access to the bulky waste collection system. Consider alterations to existing pricing policy to reduce barriers to those on limited incomes, e.g. specified benefits or a method of allowing Councillors to access the service in identified cases of need.
  • Consider a new trade/business waste collection service for commercial producers to pay different amounts by weight, wheelie bin, jumbo bags for small businesses working from home or other fixed location.
  • Cost a Council supported commercial waste disposal and recycling centre for small businesses working from home/landlords and mobile small traders to improve alternatives from illegal use of the HRC/Fly Tipping, at a competitive price and service level.
  • Examine the introduction of discrete bins or drop off points for street cleaning or litter picking wastes so as to reduce the risk of bags left awaiting collection being added to with fly tipped materials.

7.5

Education and Prevention

Medium/Long Term Action
  • Link with the Your Peterborough magazine which goes out with the council tax booklet, information for landlords/tenants
  • Education pack which teachers could deliver
  • Education plan for councillors part of the engagement plan
  • After tape is placed around an event of fly-tipping, leave for 48 hours before clearing (unless hazardous)

7.6

Enforcement and detection

Medium/Long Term Action
  • Joint crime prevention/enforcement strategy with partners and neighbouring local authorities (sharing best practice)
  • Shared case management system for partner organisations
  • Working more closely with the LATCo to have a one visit resolution
  • Adopt the duty of care if this is passed by the government.

So what can be done about it? Does the local council do enough? Should they work closer with Cambridgeshire County Council on the issue? If you have any comments on this story, please leave them below.

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