£5,000 fines for householders who give waste to cowboy contractors
The ask-no-questions, hear-no-lies culture of disposing of troublesome household rubbish could be laid to rest by new laws brought in this week.While council contractors will deal with the vast majority of waste produced in the home for no charge beyond the council tax, householders occasionally resort to hiring in fly-by-night waste disposal workers to get rid of unwanted waste, turning a blind eye to the inevitable fly tipping that follows.
But under the new regulations, householders now have a legal Duty of Care to ensure their rubbish is passed on to authorised carriers only and those not taking reasonable measures to do so could find themselves in the dock and facing fines of up to £5,000.
The full list of registered waste carriers can now be found online on the Environment Agency's website to help the public track down legitimate firms.
"Fly-tippers rely on people not asking questions, and not checking for registration - but now all householders have a responsibility to ask those questions, and check for that registration," said Ben Bradshaw, Local Environment Minister.
"Waste cowboys can make huge sums of money by charging to take household rubbish away illegally, before dumping it over the nearest hedge. If that rubbish is traced back to the household it came from, the householder could now be fined."
Government is trying to play down suggestions the new regulations are heavy handed and intended to scare the public into cooperating.
Instead it says the regulations give the relevant authorities new powers to clamp down on the plague of fly tipping and help keep neighbourhoods tidy while protecting the environment.
"Using their new powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, both local authorities and the Environment Agency are working hard to catch fly-tippers, but they need help," said Mr Bradshaw.
"If everyone takes responsibility for their own waste, we can cut the supply to the fly-tippers and drive them out of business - in turn saving council taxpayers millions of pounds."
Last year, councils spent almost £1m a week clearing up fly-tips, over half of which were household rubbish that could have been disposed of at the nearest tip - free of charge.
Councillor David Sparks, Chair of the Local Government Association's Environment Board said: "The new regulations are an extra weapon in the armoury to eliminate fly-tippers and fly-tipping. They are all about householders working with their council to combat the blight of fly-tipping and make sure rubbish is dealt with properly and responsibly.
"The target is not responsible citizens who keep their neighbourhoods clean, but those who are intent on dumping their rubbish for everyone else to clean up.
"Every year councils spend millions of pounds clearing up household rubbish that is dumped by people posing as legitimate waste carriers.
We don't want to fine people; we want to encourage them to think carefully about who they give their waste to, and not to simply choose the cheapest option.
"All household waste can still be disposed of at tips free of charge. And for residents unable to take bulky waste to the tip themselves, most councils offer a subsidised, or free, collection service."
By Sam Bond
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