Groups meet to tackle fly-tipping

Incidents of fly-tipping have been 'galloping' up in the past few years, but fines incurred remain 'miles too low', and the situation is going to get worse, Environment Agency Chief Executive Barbara Young told a conference this week.

Illegal dumping of waste is hazardous both to the environment and health, but can be a lucrative business for environmental criminals

Illegal dumping of waste is hazardous both to the environment and health, but can be a lucrative business for environmental criminals

Speaking at the CIWEM 'Fly-tipping, finding solutions to an environmental crime', Ms Young took the opportunity to stress that more and bigger fines are needed to tackle this societal problem which at best is an eyesore, at worst a threat to human health.

She said the Environment Agency wanted to see legislative changes to tackle the problem, and for waste management plans to be produced for the construction industry which is responsible for almost a quarter of fly tipping incidences. However, she stressed what was needed most was a reduction in the amount of waste produced.

Ms Young was chairing a conference, which brought together policy makers, local authorities and NGOs to discuss tackling this environmental crime, ahead of the 14 May deadline for submissions to the Defra consultation on the issue.

Fly-tipping accounted for 14% of all serious pollution incidents according to the Agency's most recent round-up of environmental crime (see related story), and is probably one of the more lucrative offences. Getting magistrates to understand the full impact of this behaviour, along with using their full range of powers to punish it was something the Agency was striving to do, Ms Young told edie, floating the idea of possibly having environmental courts to try environmental crime.

Justin Taberham, CIWEM's Director of Policy said: "There is often a narrow focus on the fly-tipping issue. We are opening the debate by bringing together government agencies, local council representatives and civil society actors - including farmers and landowners - to enhance understanding of the different powers, responsibilities and techniques available to combat fly-tipping."

Sue Elis, head of waste management at Defra, stood in for Minister Elliot Morley who was due to deliver a speech to the conference. She said there was a lot of political momentum behind tackling fly-tipping and stressed that prevention of the crime was a much better use of public money than clean-up.

Much of the focus was on the collation of data of fly-tipping incidences. At the beginning of the year the EA launched 'Flycapture', a web based tool through which local authorities can report on incidences in their area. So far, 86% of local authorities have registered onto this system - they rest were urged to do so quickly as figures for April were due in at the end of May.

By Sorcha Clifford



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