How to banish the bane of fly-tipping

Following a consultation exercise, the Countryside Alliance has proposed measures to curb the blight of fly-tipping. Charlotte Fiander outlines what's required

Earlier this year the Countryside Alliance launched 'Fly-tipping - scrap it', a national campaign to encourage debate on the extent and annoyance of fly-tipping, as well as the cost of dealing with it. The campaign, which began in March, kicked off with the publication of Tipping point which looked to paint the true picture of fly-tipping across the UK.

Following on from this, A time for action was released, a document borne out of extensive consultation with the public and various stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, local authorities, police forces, and waste industry representatives. Unfortunately, everyone has seen evidence of fly-tipping at some point. Whether it is household waste dumped next to bins in the street, or building waste dumped in the countryside, fly-tipping has reached epidemic proportions.

Throughout the Countryside Alliance's consultation process, one key point was brought up repeatedly as a suggestion - to improve access to civic amenity (CA) sites. It is clear that inadequate access to CA sites is a significant factor. People are too often turned away from their local tip because of draconian criteria for entry, which unfortunately can make it easier to dump illegally than legally.

Don't make legal dumping difficult
Rules must be changed to enable easy and legal disposal of waste, and to remove the temptation to simply dump and run. Restrictive criteria on the size and type of waste, and on who is allowed to enter tips must be relaxed. Anyone who makes the journey to their local tip is acting responsibly by attempting to dispose of their waste legally, and every effort must be made to encourage this.

There should be a standardisation of practice introduced at CA sites. There is great uncertainty over what is accepted, with differing costs, charges and admission costs from one local authority to the next. Drawing up clear guidance to ensure that there is a standardised approach throughout the UK would avoid any misunderstanding, and improve levels of communication between local authorities and their CA sites.

This would be helped by an increase in access to information about CA sites. Many people do not know where their local site is, or what it will accept. To address this, a CA mobile text service could be introduced alongside a public information website. The website would enable the public to use a simple postcode search facility to find out information about their nearest CA site.

It would also inform them where it was, opening hours, likely charges, and if there were any restrictions. A mobile text service could be effective by allowing builders and other small businesses to search for their nearest CA site using their mobile phone.

More sites needed to close the gap
There is also a need for more CA sites. Research has shown that distance is a significant factor for fly-tipping - the closer a person is to a CA site, and the easier it is to get to, the more inclined they are to use it. There is also a need for extra staffing at existing sites, and an extension of opening hours. Many individual traders who work between the usual hours of 9am-5pm are frustrated to find their local tip shut when they need to use it. Extending opening hours removes a common excuse used by fly-tippers, and also lifts a barrier to those who want to obey the law and dump their waste legally.

Lastly, if CA sites were renamed 'recycling centres' it would make it clearer what they are and why they are there. This rebranding exercise would also encourage the public to use their local recycling services, especially as awareness grows. However these recommendations are only one element of the Countryside Alliance's six-part proposal for combating the problem of fly-tipping. Other measures include greater support for landowners through anti-fly-tipping measures, use of compensation orders and closer working relationship with local authorities.

Reforms should also be introduced for business and trader practice including a re-appraisal of waste carrier licences, site waste management plans and a strengthening of packaging regulations. There should be better support for households and the travelling community including coordination with gypsy and traveller sites. A reappraisal of current legislation and enforcement practices is required, as well as improved guidance for magistrates and prioritisation within crime and disorder reduction partnerships.

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