Call for action as Central Bedfordshire hit by fly tipping epidemic

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Highest number of incidents since records began

Central Bedfordshire faced a record number of fly-tipping incidents last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show there were 2,509 fly-tipping incidents in Central Bedfordshire in the year to March 2023 – a slight increase from 2,485 in 2021-22 and the highest figure since records began in 2012-13. This meant there were 8.3 incidents per 1,000 people in the area.

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In Central Bedfordshire, most fly-tipped waste was discovered on highways, accounting for 68% of recorded incidents. This was followed by 19% on council land. The largest proportion of discarded waste was household waste, making up 48% of all incidents.

Fly tipping is on the rise in Central BedfordshireFly tipping is on the rise in Central Bedfordshire
Fly tipping is on the rise in Central Bedfordshire

Experts are calling on the Government to review sentencing guidelines, introduce bigger fines and “even jail ‘professional fly-tippers’ when they are caught”.

Across England, local authorities dealt with slightly fewer incidents in 2022-23 – 1.08 million compared with 1.09 million in 2021-22. However, environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy warned the number of 'tipper lorry load’ size or larger incidents has increased by 13%.

Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “It is time for the public and our justice system to say ‘enough is enough’ and tackle the selfish vandals who are trashing our environment for profit.

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“The public can play their part by ensuring that they only give their unwanted ‘stuff’ to reputable, licensed waste carriers who will dispose of it correctly and the courts must help by using the considerable sentencing powers they have to order hefty fines and even jail ‘professional fly-tippers’ when they are caught. Environmental crime is not a victimless crime – we are all victims of it.”

The number of fixed penalty notices issued across the country fell from 91,000 in 2021-22 to 73,000 in 2022-23, with 16 in Central Bedfordshire.

While the average court fine increased by 13% to £526, there were fewer fines given last year with a total value of £785,000 compared to £837,000 in the year before.

Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Fly-tipping is inexcusable. It is not only an eyesore for residents, but a serious public health risk, creating pollution and attracting rats and other vermin.

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“This decrease in fly-tipping is positive, and a testament to the hard work of councils. We continue to urge the Government to review sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so that offenders are given bigger fines for more serious offences to act as a deterrent.

“Manufacturers should also contribute to the costs to councils of clear up, by providing more take-back services so people can hand in old furniture and mattresses when they buy new ones.”

Recycling minister Robbie Moore said: “Fly-tipped rubbish is a blight on the landscape, and a burden on councils to clean up – so it’s absolutely right for councils to take strong action whenever a crime is committed.

“We are making solid progress – with enforcement up by 6% and fly-tipping decreasing for the second year in a row – but we know there is more to do.

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“That’s why we are helping councils to take the fight to criminals, with additional grants to tackle fly-tipping, higher £1,000 on-the-spot fines for offenders and powers to stop, search, and seize vehicles suspected of being used for fly-tipping.”