Broadcast From the Bins: The Problem of Fly Tipping
Broadcast from the bins:
The problem of fly-tipping
What is fly-tipping?
Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste on land. The waste can be anything from general waste in black bags to industrial waste and construction materials.
What problems can it cause?
Fly-tipping spoils the look of local areas and beauty spots, and not only that, it causes pollution, endangers wildlife, and public health, depending on the type of waste.
As well as the environmental cost, there is a considerable economic cost involved in clearing the waste. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has stated that clearing fly-tipped rubbish from the streets costs local authorities around £4 million per month.
The statistics on fly-tipping certainly aren’t pretty:
- Local authorities in England and Wales deal with around 900,000 incidents of fly-tipping each year, 2/3 of which are made up of household waste.
- Fly-tipping on highways is the most common place for it to occur and this accounts for half of all cases.
- Fly-tipping on bridle paths, footpaths, and in alleyways is increasing too; this makes up about 28% of all fly-tipping incidents.
- 1/3 of all cases involve an amount of rubbish being dumped that could fit into a small van.
- Local authorities in England spend around £50 million per year clearing fly-tipping.
Why has fly-tipping become such a problem?
In recent years, there have been considerable cuts to local authority budgets, so councils have introduced ways to cut costs, from replacing bins with smaller ones to reducing the frequency of rubbish collections. Unfortunately, these have played a role in the increasing amount of fly-tipping taking place. Smaller bins mean that people just dump their rubbish elsewhere, and less frequent collections mean that some people turn to unscrupulous, unlicensed people who offer to dispose of their rubbish at rock bottom prices.
Residents in Conwy, Wales, claimed that their lives had been a misery since their local council reduced bin collections to four-weekly. They complained that they had to beg elderly neighbours to let them use their bins and even had to just burn some of their rubbish.
What is being done and what can you do?
Local authorities and the Environment Agency are both responsible for taking action over illegally dumped waste. Local authorities have jurisdiction where waste has been dumped on public land and the Environment Agency investigates the dumping of industrial waste and organised illegal waste crime. However, everyone has a responsibility to dispose of their waste responsibly. Household waste makes up around half of all the rubbish that is fly-tipped in England.
How can you report fly-tipping?
There are a few ways that you can report fly-tipping, depending on how much waste has been dumped.
For large amounts of dumped waste, for example, waste that looks like it could have been dumped by a lorry, you can call the Environment Agency’s 24 hours hotline (0800 807 060) to report it.
For smaller amounts of rubbish, contact your local council and give them some information about where the rubbish is, what it might be and if it has happened in that location before.
Local authorities can issue fines or initiate court proceedings against fly-tippers and spend around £17 million per year on bringing prosecutions.