Councils reveal 10 worst excuses for fly-tipping

Councils reveal 10 worst excuses for fly-tippingNearly £50 million is spent every year by councils cleaning up waste that has been illegally dumped in public or private areas, with over 900,000 cases dealt with each year.

The problem is getting worse, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), with the number of recorded incidents of fly-tipping increasing by almost six per cent in 2014/15 compared to the year before. And in the same year clean-up costs rose by 11 per cent.

In response to the growing issue of fly-tipping, councils were given new powers in May that enable them to issue on-the-spot fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of up to £400 to help tackle small-scale cases like pieces of broken furniture, televisions or mattresses.

While fly-tipping is no laughing matter for councils, the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, has compiled a list of the 10 worst excuses given to councils by those caught in the act:

The top 10 list of fly-tippers' excuses

  1. “I paid a man with a van to take it.”
  2. "I thought the green waste in the back of the van was on fire so I tipped it out, after I realised it wasn't on fire I couldn't put it back in the van as I had to collect my son from school!"
  3. “I met a man at the ‘dump' who said he wanted it – can't think why he then dumped it; rather than taking it back to the ‘dump.”
  4. “I dropped my phone and there was so much rubbish in the car that I could hardly find it – I cleared the rubbish out so I could find the phone.”
  5. “My van was untidy and I needed to give my boss a lift so I cleared the rubbish out because I know he doesn't like the van untidy.”
  6. “The waste fell off the back of my vehicle as I drove along.”
  7. “I saw other fly-tipped waste and thought the area was a recycling centre."
  8. “It was my van, but I had lent it to this other man who is now not answering my calls… I think his name is Jim.”
  9. “I sold my vehicle to some people who were quite intimidating actually.”
  10. “I know the person who works on the tip and they don't like me, so when I saw them working, I drove on.”

A ‘deadly serious’ issue for councils

LGA Environment spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: "The excuses some fly-tippers give when caught are laughable but for councils this issue is deadly serious. Councils are being forced to spend many millions on clearing up fly-tipping and taking enforcement action. At a time when councils have experienced substantial budget reductions, this is money that is being diverted from vital frontline services like caring for the elderly, and filling the nation's potholes.”

Over half a million enforcement actions are taken against fly-tippers by councils every year, costing almost £18 million but saving money in the long-run.

The Joint Waste Partnership for Buckinghamshire, a group of all the county’s local authorities, has secured 500 convictions in the last 10 years and has estimated that the action has saved the county council around £2 million over the period and a further £1 million for the district councils through reduction in removal and disposal costs.

Box added: "Councils have a zero tolerance approach to fly-tipping and excuses like these are given short shrift. The government has introduced new powers enabling councils to issue on-the-spot fines and this is an important step forward. However, there are a number of additional changes that would help tackle littering and fly-tipping, including sharing more of the responsibility with product producers – such as mattress and chewing gum manufacturers - to contribute to the costs of clear up.

"Councils use enforcement powers proportionately and take a range of different approaches to raise awareness and change culture. This includes providing advice and encouraging residents to report incidents and businesses to keep areas next to their premises clean and clear of litter and mess that can attract dumping."

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