Hertfordshire criminals make most of illegal fly-tipping 'pop-up'
A disused former factory site earmarked for regeneration was broken into and turned into a pop-up fly-tipping business for 10 days, dumping nearly 500 tonnes of mixed and hazardous waste on the Hertfordshire countryside.
The 15-acre site in Hemel Hempstead, which is due to be turned into offices, shops, and housing, opened its doors last week, attracting ‘customers’ who were charged per truckload to enter the site and dump their waste illegally by a man waiting to take patrons’ cash at the entrance gate.
The waste not only included broken furniture, old kitchen units, builders’ rubble, household waste, and plastic, but pieces of asbestos, which had to be picked up with an excavator to be processed by a specialist waste site. It took the emergency waste company WasteSafe Services nearly a week to clear the site completely.
The case - the worst of its kind in the UK in 2017 - shows the huge demand for fly-tipping and the increasingly brazen approach taken by those looking to profit from running illegal waste disposal sites. It might yet be more evidence that waste crime is ‘the new narcotics’, according to Sir James Bevan, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, who made the comments last year, referring to the quick money that illegal waste operators are making at the cost of communities.
Martin Bull, Director of WasteSafe, who are based in Coulsdon, South London, said: “This is the worst case of fly-tipping we've ever dealt with. The scale was quite amazing to see. The fly tipping was clearly co-ordinated to fill the site with as much waste as possible.
The number of recorded fly-tipping incidents has been steadily increasing for the past five years. In 2012/13 there were 711,000 incidents, but the most recent Defra figures show there were over a million (1.02 million) in 2016/17.
An ITV survey found Haringey, North London, had nearly 40,000 reported incidents of illegal waste being dumped between November 2015 and December 2016. In Manchester it was more than 30,000, which equals 77 reports a day on average.
The anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy, which launched its #CrimeNotToCare campaign to raise public awareness of fly-tipping in partnership with 15 local authorities, including Hertfordshire, in 2016, responded by warning that fly-tipping is reaching ‘crisis levels’.
The government has recently given local authorities greater powers to fine anyone caught fly-tipping, with drivers caught being issued with on-the-spot fines.