Fly-tippers strike 16,745 times in Norfolk, Waveney and Fenland
- Credit: Archant
The huge blight of fly-tipping in the region is revealed today with figures showing there were almost 17,000 incidents in Norfolk, Waveney and Fenland last year.
Councils took action in 4,600 cases in 2015/16, with all councils in the area taking some sort of action apart from King's Lynn and West Norfolk, according to figures from Defra.
Norfolk, Waveney and Fenland councils spent £158,711 last year investigating and taking action against fly-tipping.
But only three councils fined anyone for the offence - Fenland, Great Yarmouth and Breckland, with a total of £5,729 levied in fines.
Great Yarmouth had the biggest number of fly-tipping incidents in the region, but councillor Carl Smith, chairman of the council's environment committee, said it was not fair to compare different councils using the figures.
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'Unlike many authorities, Great Yarmouth Borough Council logs as fly-tipping any loose or bagged waste residents may leave beside their household waste bins,' he said.
The Defra figures showed fly-tipping in Great Yarmouth fell by 8pc between 2012 and 2016.
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'Great Yarmouth has one of Norfolk's best records for enforcement on fly-tipping,' Cllr Smith said. 'Since 2012/13, the borough council has successfully brought 49 prosecutions for waste-related offences, with fines totalling £20,600 issued by the courts.'
Nationally, fly-tipping is on the rise again, with the number of incidents up for the third year in a row.
Clearing up the fly-tipped rubbish cost councils £49.8 million.
Campaigners warned financial pressure on local councils had caused some waste collection services to be cut, which led to more fly-tipping.
More than two thirds of incidents involved black bags of rubbish or other household waste, while there were also thousands of cases of white goods such as fridges being dumped, as well as tyres, asbestos, vehicle parts and construction waste.
A third of all incidents consisted of a quantity of material equivalent to a 'small van load'.
Samantha Harding, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: 'Financial pressure on local councils has caused some local collection services to be cut and it seems that people have taken this as a licence to dump their waste illegally.
'There needs to be a review of England's struggling waste management systems, with a new ambitious programme to haul them into the 21st century.'
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, says the figure does not reflect the true scale of the crime because increasing reports of fly-tipping on private rural land are not included.
CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood said: 'Local authorities tend not to get involved with clearing incidences of fly-tipped waste from private land leaving the landowner to clean up and foot the bill.
'Our members have reported a big increase in fly-tipping on their land. It's not just the odd bin bag but large household items from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.
'Farmers and landowners are forced to clear up somebody else's rubbish or they risk prosecution for illegal storage of waste. This is simply not right or fair.
'Only when people see evidence of local authorities taking stronger action to combat the scourge of fly-tipping can we hope to see a reversal in this worrying trend.'
Local Government Association environment spokeswoman Judith Blake said: 'At a time when social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020 and councils' overall funding shortfall is predicted to reach £5.8 billion within three years, local authorities are having to spend a vast amount each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping.
'This is money that would be better spent on vital front line services.'
A Defra spokesman said: 'Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment, which is why we are committed to tackling this anti-social behaviour so everyone can enjoy a cleaner, healthier country.'
The Government has given councils new powers to issue £400 'on the spot' fixed penalty notices to help clamp down on small-scale fly-tipping, he said.
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