Even this lockdown offers no excuse for fly-tipping – Mo Metcalf-Fisher
Of course, this not a recent phenomenon. Yorkshire has been routinely abused by criminals dumping junk in both its cities and vast rural spaces. However, nationally, there was an eight per cent increase in cases between 2018-19.
Much has been written about the horrendous damage fly-tipping does to both rural and urban areas; from aesthetics to genuine damage to the environment, wildlife and the severe health hazard it poses.
On top of this, farmers are doubly hit as they have a legal responsibility to clear up waste that is dumped on their land. The average clean-up operation costs them £800 a time. This doesn’t include any costs incurred to mend fencing, or to install additional security.
Like most, I want to see fly-tippers receive the maximum penalty for their crime. While courts can impose fines of £50,000 and/or a five-year jail sentence, shockingly, only around five per cent of court-imposed fines in the past six years have been above £1,000. Most fines average £430. So clearly, deterrents must be robust enough to warn potential offenders off and severely punish those responsible.
Last year, a joint investigation by Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire Police led to the successful prosecution of serial fly-tipper Christopher Binder. Binder, who ran a waste disposal business, routinely dumped rubbish in the countryside. In May 2018, he was sentenced to a 12-month community order and was told to pay more than £6,000 in costs. His transit van was also crushed. Enforcement officers have the power to seize a vehicle if they can link it to evidence of fly-tipping or if they believe it will happen again.
Despite the response from authorities, there are steps that we can all take to do our part in the fight.
Getting to grips with tackling fly-tipping, for the long term, requires us to accept that it goes far beyond people chucking fast food cartons out the window on country lanes. Fly-tipping is an illegal business, operated by criminals. The key to beating them, ultimately lies with us, the people.
At the Countryside Alliance, our policy unit routinely search out online ads for waste removal services. Often, online marketplaces have hundreds of ads offering incredibly low prices for the work involved.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with these online portals and we welcome all available means of promotion for legitimate tradespeople.
However, we do have concerns about how easy it is for an advert to simply reference having the correct licence necessary to carry out waste disposal when they do not.
The problem is not isolated to the internet. We hear stories of people agreeing to transactions in the street, where home or business owners are paying an on the spot, nominal fee for waste removal. Only recently in Derbyshire, a woman was fined £400 for paying a man £10 to dispose of her rubbish in a rural lane. Enforcement officers were able to trace the rubbish back to her and she was subsequently penalised for failing the householder’s duty of care, as she had made no effort to check to see if the man collecting the rubbish had the correct licence.
Cheshire Police recently tweeted that if you are spending less than £150 for waste removal, there’s a high probability it will end up dumped in the countryside. Their calculations tally with many of our own findings.
Herein lies the problem: people are either knowingly or unknowingly fuelling criminal activity that has horrific consequences for the countryside and rural communities.
For whatever reason, there can never be justification for this horrendous act. We would urge readers looking to employ someone for waste disposal to always make sure they have the correct licence. By doing so, a hefty fine will be avoided and our countryside and rural communities will not suffer.
During these uncertain times, please also regularly follow the advice from your local authority in relation to waste disposal and health and safety.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher is media manager at the Countryside Alliance.
Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well. Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected].
Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available. If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.
Sincerely. Thank you.