Rubbish Illegally Dumped in England Every 35 Seconds

LONDON, UK, March 2, 2005 (ENS) - Unwanted fridges, sofas, household waste - every month there are 75,000 incidents of illegal rubbish dumping in England, according to new data released today by the government which show the true extent of the practice, known as fly-tipping. Local authorities say the mess is costing them almost 100 (US$191) a minute to clean up.

The new figures come from Flycapture, a national fly-tipping database set up last year by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Environment Agency, and the Local Government Association.

Local authorities and the Environment Agency record details of all the fly-tipping incidents that they deal with on Flycapture. The database has enabled the government to compile the first comprehensive national picture of illegal waste dumping.


Piles of rubbish litter the English landscape. (Photo courtesy FreeFoto)
Speaking at a joint DEFRA, Environment Agency and LGA fly-tipping conference today, Environment Minister Elliot Morley explained how the information will be used to help authorities focus their efforts on enforcing against fly-tipping and preventing future incidents, rather than just concentrating on expensive clearance.

"Fly-tipping is a serious environmental crime that will not be tolerated. We recognized it was an increasing problem but fortunately, with the kind of information we now have on Flycapture, we can see what is being dumped, where it is being dumped, how often and how much it is costing local authorities to clear up," Morley said.

"We can then use that to target our resources more effectively, improve our intelligence on the ground, and help track fly-tippers both within, and between, counties as part of our commitment to tackling anti-social behavior," he said.

Last year Flycapture helped the Environment Agency and local authorities in London catch, confiscate and crush two trucks responsible for at least 27 separate incidents of fly-tipping at different sites across the capital, costing council taxpayers thousands of pounds in cleanup costs.

Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency told the conference participants that the Flycapture database contains information on incidents dealt with, actions taken and a vehicle registration hot-list that encourages local authorities to work together to catch illegal dumpers.

"Flycapture shows what we have been saying for some time now, that fly-tipping is a big problem that affects a lot of people," Young said. "The figures show that every day there are 40 incidents involving multiple lorry-loads of waste being illegally dumped."

"However, Flycapture is not simply a database for keeping records, it is an enforcement tool that will, and already is, helping us and Local Authorities to target and catch these criminals that have no regard for our health and environment. Using this information we will work together with local authorities on a targeted crackdown in problem areas to beat this problem," she declared.


About 350,000 vehicles were abandoned in the UK in 2003, and the problem is intensifying due to a collapse in the price of scrap metal. (Photo courtesy FreeFoto)
Joint working operations using the vehicle hot-list have already been successful, encouraging cooperation between the police, Vehicle and Operations Service Agency and authorities.

Morley said, "Almost 250,000 black bags are left somewhere they shouldn't be every year, and each one costs 40 to clear away. That's about 10m that local authorities could be spending on preventing fly-tipping, and improving their neighborhoods in general."

"But it's not just the monetary cost, it's the environmental damage that any discarded rubbish can cause, as well as the loss of community pride," the minister said.

Parliament is currently debating The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill which includes stiffer penalties for fly-tipping and extends the powers of local authorities and the Environment Agency to deal with offenders.

But Opposition Conservative MP Peter Luff, who represents Mid Worcestershire, says the government has "pursued the important objectives of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill in the wrong way."

He objects that the bill "the Bill focuses predominantly on urban issues while neglecting rural areas."

"The Bill contains many unnecessary provisions which would not be needed if existing legislation were properly enforced," said Luff.