.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Dilemma facing councils on fly-tipping

This article in the Guardian from a few days ago about the rise in fly-tipping in England perfectly illustrates the dilemma being faced by local councils around the UK.

Of course, it is not just England that is experiencing a surge in illegal dumping since 2012, though the article concentrates on that one nation. It is happening in other parts of the UK as well, including Wales. A large part of my caseload as a local councillor is reporting illegal fly-tipping, often material just left in the middle of the street as well as on hidden-away waste land and lanes.

The paper says that fly-tipping incidents in England fell from 1.3m in 2007-08 to 0.7m in 2012-13, but there has been a steady rise since then to 1.1m in 2018-19. Total fines of £1m were levied last year. The million-plus incidents of illegal rubbish dumping in 2018-19 cost English councils £58m to clean up. Most involved household waste being jettisoned from cars or vans by the side of a road.

The paper says that councils are handing out more on-the-spot fines and pursuing more prosecutions. Offending vehicles can be seized and in some cases are crushed. The number seized jumped to 207 last year. However, English councils have lost 60% of their central government funding since 2010, meaning less money is available for action against fly-tippers. Welsh councils are also struggling to make ends meet.

The issue of course is that all councils are trying to cut down on landfill for environmental reasons, but also because the landfill tax and a reducing number of sites where waste can be buried, makes it uneconomic. That means that households are limited in the amount of rubbish they can dispose of legitimately.

All councils are trying to maximise recycling, while at the same time limiting the non-recyclate they will take from taxpayers and companies. Costs of commercial waste disposal are increasing, and individuals are struggling to get rid of items, and surplus domestic waste. None of this excuses illegal fly-tipping.

A lot of this surplus material can be eradicated by better individual management and commitment to recycling. The dilemma for councils however, is that while they are saving money by reducing landfill, they are spending more picking up junk illegally left on the roadside and elsewhere.

Bigger fines will help, but we also need more investment in enforcement. However, the biggest difference could be made if government honoured its obligations to the waste hierarchy and legislated to reduce packaging, and to encourage manufacturers to use materials that lend themselves better to reuse or recycling.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?