Fly-tippers cost region £3m a year

By Jonathan Barnes, James Hore and David LennardCLEANING up rubbish dumped in laybys, country lanes, alleyways and even playgrounds is costing the region's taxpayers £2.

By Jonathan Barnes, James Hore and David Lennard

CLEANING up rubbish dumped in laybys, country lanes, alleyways and even playgrounds is costing the region's taxpayers £2.9 million a year, a survey has revealed.

Fly-tipping has become such a problem that some councils in East Anglia are spending as much as £30 a day to dispose of the discarded junk.

Keep Britain Tidy, which launches a major national campaign todayto tackle the problem, said there were more than 37,000 complaints about fly-tipping across the region last year.

However, just 17 people in East Anglia were prosecuted in 2002 for dumping rubbish.

Farmers and landowners are also suffering, the Keep Britain Tidy survey revealed, with some paying more than £1,000 a year to clean up other people's rubbish, including sofas, mattresses and fridges.

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The new campaign, called Don't Turn A Blind Eye, includes adverts on buses and a new hotline number to “shop” offenders.

Nigel Tansley-Thomas, regional director of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “The main reason people fly-tip rubbish is because they don't think they'll ever get caught.

“But with the public's help, this campaign will make sure they get the message that someone's watching them and that if they do it, they're sure to suffer the consequences.”

Keep Britain Tidy spoke to 159 councils and 390 landowners, including the National Farmers' Union, for the survey.

It found 85% of the region's local authorities considered fly-tipping a major problem and said country lanes and laybys were the most popular place for dumped rubbish in the east of England.

Mid Suffolk District Council dealt with 576 incidents of fly-tipping in 2002/03, which cost £10,660 to remove.

Council spokeswoman Rebecca Scrase said its policy was to clear rubbish within 24 hours of it being reported.

“Fly-tipping doesn't just create an environmental eyesore in an otherwise beautiful district, it represents a considerable drain on council resources,” she added.

“What's so frustrating is that we have more than adequate dump facilities throughout the district and an excellent rubbish collection service.”

Ipswich Borough Council already has a fly-tipping hotline in operation and said dumped rubbish should be cleared within seven days. A spokesman added removing the rubbish cost the authority £2,000 to £3,000 a year.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council dealt with 607 incidents of fly-tipping in 2002/03 and said it aimed to remove waste within three days. It could not put a figure on the cost of the clear-up.

Forest Heath District Council said it did not have a particular problem with fly-tipping, but Babergh District Council reported the problem “seemed to be getting worse”.

Malcolm Firth, its head of environmental services, said it dealt with about 300 to 400 cases in a typical year.

Dave McManus, waste and transport manager for Colchester Borough Council, said the cost of street cleansing, which included fly-tipping, was about £700,000 a year.

He added about £43,000 had been spent on dealing with abandoned vehicles last year and there had been about 1,700 reports of abandoned vehicles in the borough.

Mr McManus said the council had introduced seven full-time street care officers who would attempt to deal with issues such as fly-tipping as part of its efforts to become the “cleanest and greenest”.

But he added there was a need for high-profile prosecutions to ensure people were aware of the consequences of fly-tipping and also to provide education in schools about the issues concerned.

Tendring District Council said it had made vast strides to tackle the issues of waste in its area, adding fly-tipping and dumping was costing about £30,000 a year to clean up.

A spokesman said: “We will definitely prosecute people who are caught fly-tipping as this costs local ratepayers a fortune and we are quite determined to stamp it out.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said although there were no specific costings available for clearing away dumped rubbish, it spent £500,000 a year on street cleaning.

“It is very sad that people are dumping items in this way when there are free recycling centres in the district. We also offer a doorstep collection service for larger household items at a very reasonable rate,” he added.

David Holland, of Waveney District Council, said dealing with fly-tipping was costing the authority at least £25,000 a year.

“This is money that is having to be taken from other projects and we get between 10 and 15 reports of rubbish being dumped illegally every week,” he added.

“The worst problems are in the country areas with the layby at Latymer Dam near Kessingland a particular blackspot.”

Brian Finnerty, of the National Farmers' Union, said fly-tipping was a big problem for farmers, particularly when more charges were being levelled for the disposal of rubbish.

“There is a lot of organised dumping now, such as builder's rubble, and it's not just people clearing out their garage. One farmer in Hertfordshire had to clear 500 tonnes of waste off his land and it cost him £4,600,” he added.

n The Keep Britain Tidy hotline number to report fly-tippers is 0845 3000 630.

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