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Fly-Tipping: An unsolvable issue?
An idyllic location spoilt
Overlooking my hometown of Cheltenham Spa, Cleeve Common on Cleeve Hill attracts thousands of hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, cyclists and picnickers. It is a beautiful part of the stunning Cotswolds and a particular favourite of mine because of the peace and tranquillity and the incredible views.
Last month I took a walk along the hill, taking advantage of the warm spring weather, and stumbled across something that will shock you as it did me. Emerging from the gorse covered hilltop something grabbed my attention and as I got closer and closer, the severity of the issue became increasingly apparent. Washing machines, fridge-freezers, sofas, mattresses, tyres, children's toys,ironing boards. The list is endless. Strewn across a stretch the hillside was the biggest fly-tipping site I had ever witnessed first hand.
Not only is it an eye-sore, the environmental implications are clear to see too. Pollution and threats to wildlife are just some of the results of fly-tipping that appear on a seemingly infinite list.
Not an isolated problem
Unfortunately this scene is an all too familiar one up and down the country. Criminals are seemingly choosing to tip like this instead of using the recycling facilities offered by respective councils. Just a quick search on Google brings up a number of articles from local papers covering this issue.
The problem is catching the perpetrators. An effort has been made at this particular site by placing concrete blocks to barricade the entrance. It is not enough though as only last week I witnessed a pile of around 50 tyres dumped in front of the barriers. Fly-tippers seemingly will stop at nothing to get rid of their rubbish illegally. Also, stopping them tipping here will only mean they will find another isolated area of the English Countryside to dump their crap.
According to the Government Statistical Service, local authorities dealt with 852 thousand cases of fly-tipping in 2013/2014, according to a report dated 30th October 2014. Despite claiming that 98% of cases resulting in a conviction (84% fined) the problem seems to be increasing thus proving the fly-tippers are not being deterred. The risk of getting fined for dumping illegally still seems to outweigh the cost of paying for legal waste disposal.
For more information on the statistics check out the report - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400928/Flycapture_201314_Statistical_release_REVISED.pdf
What can we do?
Expensive solutions don't work. Installation of CCTV, security, barriers etc will only mean the tippers will find somewhere else. More public awareness and harsher penalties can be helpful, but it's not the answer. Unfortunately and I say reluctantly that I don't believe there to be a definitive answer. It comes down to moral decency and if these fly-tippers don't care about disposing of their rubbish illegally then they will continue to do it. It's a harsh reality to face but it's the truth. No amount of education or risk of fines will change their attitudes when they know they can sneak out in the middle of the night undetected and dump where they want.
But we cannot give up. Raising awareness of this issue will only serve to support the need for action. We must as a concerned public ensure that all cases are reported and detail as much as we possibly can. Last month new regulations were introduced to enhance powers to seize vehicles suspected to be involved with illegal waste disposal. It's a step in the right direction.
If you are concerned about fly-tipping, I recommend checking out the NFTPG (National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group) website. It has information about how best to report fly-tipping as well as the best way of clearing sites.