East Anglia’s councils spent more than £4m clearing up fly-tipping in 2016/17

Fly-tipping in Oulton Broad. Photo: Nick Butcher.

Fly-tipping in Oulton Broad. Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Archant © 2010

Cash-strapped councils have spent more than £4m clearing up fly-tippers' rubbish across East Anglia.

Defra figures revealed 75,447 incidents of illegally-dumped waste were reported by local authorities in the region between April 2016 and March 2017 – an increase of 8.6pc on the previous year.

The clean-up cost to taxpayers in the East of England totalled £4,339,536 – and councils face further costs should they choose to investigate and prosecute individuals.

In Norfolk, the 17,908 incidents cost £958,875 with Great Yarmouth bearing the region's highest bill for fly-tipping clearance, totalling £470,443 for 7,993 incidents.

Great Yarmouth District Council (GYDC) has taken a particularly hard line on fly-tippers, having set aside £70,000 every year for the past five years to deal with the problem

Carl Smith, chairman of the environment committee at GYDC, said: 'The council has a proactive, zero-tolerance approach to investigating fly-tipping, meaning we have one of Norfolk's best records for enforcement on environmental crimes.'

'We seek to prosecute and name and shame those convicted to help educate people about disposing of waste responsibly and deter would-be offenders.'

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Since 2014, the council has secured 42 successful prosecutions, with offenders paying a total of £22,600 in fines, as well as a prison sentence.

Mr Smith added: 'Our budget for cleaning up fly-tipping has been stable for some years, but we've not had to reduce services as a result of this expenditure, as it makes up part of out frontline cleansing service.

'However, it is clear that all waste disposed of irresponsibly clearly has costs – to the environment, the public and the offender themselves – so the more the public can help by disposing of waste responsibly and tipping us off about offenders, the better for everyone.'

A district which has seen a sharp increase in the levels of fly-tipping in the past few years is North Norfolk, which has seen a 41pc increase in the criminal activity between 2014 to present.

Annie Claussen-Reynolds, NNDC cabinet member for Waste and Environmental Services, said: 'The growth in reported incidents of fly-tipping shows that there is still a lot of work to be done, and anything that makes more people think twice before just leaving their rubbish behind for others to clear up would be welcome.'

The councillor also raised the point that residents could be implicated if their rubbish was fly-tipped, even without their knowledge.

She added: 'It is everyone's responsibility to dispose of their waste properly. If you ask others to do it for you, check that they have a waste-carrier's licence – and if you are not sure, don't give them your rubbish.

'If rubbish that you give to someone else to dispose of is later fly-tipped, action could be taken against you, and you could find yourself being prosecuted.'

The East of England also had the highest amount of fly-tipping incidents on council land in the country, which are often areas of natural beauty such as parks.

There is some good news however, as Broadland District Council has seen a reduction in fly-tipping levels.

Councillor John Fisher said: 'We have targeted the fly tipping hot spots by putting up notices with 'eyes' on, which research indicated were effective in certain areas at preventing bike thefts, and have also had a couple of prosecutions and publicised them with statements saying how we will actively try to trace the offender and prosecute.

'We also have a very good and active team, our waste contractors Veolia, who react very quickly to all reports of fly tipping so that it is cleared quickly because some evidence indicates that fly tipping attract other fly tippers.

'One case which we did prosecute was for waste being dumped with bin the Blickling Estate, and after the prosecution and publicity the offender made a complaint against us for actively publicising the case.'