This month, 2 March marks the release of the new fly-tipping report from Defra. I am saddened to say that the fly-tipping epidemic that we have been experiencing across the country is far from over.
The latest statistics show that fly-tipping is still a major issue, with local authorities carrying out 494,000 enforcement actions in 2015-16 at an estimated cost of £16.9m. The cost of clearance for fly-tipping across the UK during this time was an astonishing £49.8m.
Defra’s report backs up what industry experts have been saying for some time. In the 15 years that Hippo has been removing the nation’s waste, it has seen a significant spike in fly-tipping. The company recently advised that people would be at risk of breaking the law and incurring large fines as a result of these waste disposal changes.
This is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer. It is vital that we all pitch in, either through education on the new tip charges introduced across selected waste disposal sites, what can and cannot take to the tip or how to dispose of waste safely and legally.
The time for complacency has long since passed. It’s not just about our future or our children’s future, but about generations to come. It is down to us, both as individuals and as part of organisations, to stand up and be part of the solution, not the problem. You would be surprised how a small change can make a big difference.
Chargeable items include hardcore, concrete, rubble, soil, plasterboard and gypsum products, tyres, timber, ceramics, glass and many other materials.
Hippo’s research into fly-tipping found that plasterboard charges in Hampshire are £6-£10. When you consider that it is actually more cost-effective to buy the plasterboard than it is to dispose of it, you start to see how this could contribute to fly-tipping. Prosecutions for fly-tipping are becoming more commonplace now, with total fines of £677,000 reported for 2015-16.
I would always encourage people that are not using a household waste recycling centre (HWRC) to check that they are employing a trusted waste disposal expert. Many people aren’t aware that, if you employ someone in good faith to get rid of your waste and they fly-tip it, both you and the individual you hired are at risk of legal action and fines. Someone can easily check if the company they employ to take away rubbish is licensed to transfer waste using the EA Waste Carriers Checklist.
Both Labour and Lib Dem councillors in West Sussex attempted to scrap tip charges in their area last month. But this was overruled and they remain in place. The charges have been in place at West Sussex County Council’s HWRC since October 2016.
We have all seen photos in the press of sofas dumped in the street. But the fact is that items such as fridges, sofas and ovens are not chargeable or banned from tips. It seems that people are prioritising convenience over what is right. By fly-tipping these goods, they are not only breaking the law and at risk of hefty fines, but they are also damaging our environment.
I see it as our duty at Hippo to stand up, get everyone clued up and stop these instances before they even occur. Movements like Grot Spot Britain, introduced by ITV, give me hope that people are starting to take notice of the fly-tipping epidemic and are willing to fight back.
Gareth Lloyd-Jones is a founder and managing director of Hampshire-based Hippo