The scourge of fly-tipping is, sadly, understood all too well in Yorkshire – to take just one example from recent days, more than 1,000 tyres were dumped in the grounds of Brockadale Nature Reserve in North Yorkshire.
But now a new investigation by the BBC Shared Data Unit has revealed the full extent of the problem in this region, as well as the growing involvement of criminal gangs in the practice.
Almost 30,000 large-scale fly-tipping incidents have been recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber in the past seven years, behind only London and the North West. Cash-strapped councils in this region have spent more than £6.8m clearing up such messes.
Nationally, the amount of fly-tipping recorded in England since 2012/13 has more than doubled, while police and environmental groups say the nature of the offence is changing as organised criminals offer illegal waste clearing services and then dump what they collect.
Meanwhile, offenders are evading justice with just two £50,000 fines – the maximum amount allowed by law in a magistrates’ court – handed out in 2018/19.
The cumulative picture is of a growing crisis affecting farmers, landowners and rural communities, with criminals even going to the extremes of establishing fake companies, hiring out farm buildings and then dumping rubbish in them before disappearing.
It is perhaps no wonder such offences are growing when 95 per cent of the potential fines for fly-tipping are lower than the cost of hiring a skip.
The experience in Wales, where a national campaign has contributed to a reduction in large-scale fly-tipping, shows it is far from impossible to transform the situation. But the authorities need to get a grip as the current approach to both deterrents and punishments in England is clearly not working.