“Cleaning up Britain's rubbish costs us more than a billion pounds a year. Hardly surprising, given we drop five times more litter today than we did in the Sixties - much of it as a direct result of our fondness for fast food, soft drinks and sweets. Yet while we seem unwilling to pick up after ourselves - or our pets - other people's discarded rubbish still gets many hot under the collar”
Last night BBC Panorama aired a programme about the increasing amount of rubbish both on our streets and in open spaces dumped by the public. Over the past few months I have been alerted to the growing problem of fly-tipping in urban areas. The presumption is that, “the council will remove it”. Unfortunately this is not the case as farmers have found out over the years. If the rubbish is dumped in private alley ways it becomes the responsibility of the home owners. I have raised the issue with various departments and have spoken out at meetings I have attended:
1. Chamber of Commerce – to alert their small business members that the Council will not remove rubbish dumped on private land unless there is a threat to public health.
2. Community Partnership meeting – is it a fire hazard as well as antisocial behaviour.
The big question is who is responsible:
1. The Public
2. The Council
3. The Producers of packaging
In my view it should be a collective responsibility to ensure our environment stays clean. Fast food outlets and retailers should have a duty of care to provided bins, offer incentives and litter pickers. Councils should ensure that the public have bins, are educated about the cost and impact of their behaviour and of course the general public including small businesses and their responsibilities.
Bridlington Town Council is doing its bit by helping to fund bins and stencilling paths with the help of the Community Payback Scheme.
Unfortunately the root of the problem is the mind set of those that just don’t care. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign has seen their funding reduced so the message has been diluted. Councils charge at their tips for commercial waste leading to fly tipping as business margins are reduced. Many schools try to educate children on social responsibility but the message is not always reinforced at home. Councils have become more cost conscious and have also seen their budgets reduced.
OK so should we all get angry and confront and report litter louts, should parking enforcement officers have a dual role, should councils not charge for commercial waste at tips, should we have more bins, should fast food outlets/supermarkets have a local rubbish levy?
Probably a combination of all the above but it may be too little too late.
Some Research & Guidance
Reporting Fly tipping
Legislation on fly-tipping
There is no specific definition of fly-tipping other than that set out in section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which says it is an offence to treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste without a waste management licence or in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.
The absence of any formal definition of illegal waste disposal is deliberate. According to guidelines produced by Defra: “The definition of fly-tipping is a wide one. This is because there is a general recognition by all including Government ministers that fly-tipping, whether it is a dumped mattress or a lorry load of construction and demolition waste can be linked to anti-social behaviour, fear of crime and the liveability of an area.”
Most of the legislation regulating waste is covered by four main Acts: The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989, The Environment Protection Act 1990, The Town and Country Planning Act 1991 and The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (the 2005 Act). The 2005 Act was specifically intended to make it easier to deal with environmental crimes. Part 5 of the Act covers waste and gives local authorities, the police and the Environment Agency greater powers when dealing with waste crime.