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Getting tougher on fly-tippers

March 8, 2019 9:05 AM
By Merllyn Canet

IMG_1219 croppedFly-tipping is unsightly, dangerous and expensive to clear up. Whether it's rubbish dumped across a country lane, on farms which the farmer has to clear up, or old fridges left in residential streets, Tipping isn't a 'victimless crime'. It costs money, and can cost lives.

Sevenoaks District has more fly-tipping than Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells, because it is closer to London. Often this is commercial rubbish, dumped to save a contractor money. 

Even with big penalties, certain detection is the real deterrent, not theoretical punishment. In 2016/17, over 1,500 incidents were reported in Sevenoaks District, but just five fixed penalty notices for fly tipping were issued. One person was successfully prosecuted.

Without better detection, commercial tippers may treat fines as a "cost of business". The best evidence comes from cameras, installed where it matters. They can automatically recognise number plates and can work at night as well, focussed on places where there is regular fly-tipping or where it causes most harm.

The epidemic of fly-tipping is a consequence of the squeeze on local authority budgets. Cash-strapped councils raise charges for collecting bulky goods and can't put enough into enforcement. Government should make sure councils have the money to do their job, and that fines go towards clearing up. 

For parts of Kent the nearest tip or recycling centre is miles away. Would more sites cut the clean-up bills? In some countries most people are less than five miles from a collection point. In others contractors, or suppiers of new household goods, must include disposal costs in quotes and bills, so there's no excuse for dumping.

Smarter solutions can help us clean up Britain.

Merilyn Canet; Liberal Democrat leader on Sevenoaks District Council