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Warning over rise in fly-tipping in face of lockdown

There are also concerns ‘unscrupulous traders’ are exploiting the social distancing rules to provide illegal waste services.


Garden and household waste fly-tipped in north London over Easter weekend (Emily Beament/PA)

Garden and household waste fly-tipped in north London over Easter weekend (Emily Beament/PA)

Garden and household waste fly-tipped in north London over Easter weekend (Emily Beament/PA)

Town halls say they are working hard to maintain effective waste and recycling services as some councils report a rise in fly-tipping.

Local authorities in some areas have seen an increase in illegally dumped rubbish as bulky waste collections have been suspended due to staff shortages, and waste and recycling centres, or dumps, have been closed.

And there are concerns some people are exploiting the lockdown rules to provide illegal waste removal services from households who are generating more rubbish from being at home through DIY, gardening and spring cleaning.

Authorities which have reported problems include Liverpool City Council, which has warned residents to be careful with their waste after a rise in fly-tipped rubbish including white goods, furniture and discarded toys.

Fly-tipping is never acceptableDavid Renard, Local Government Association

West Oxfordshire District Council says it has seen a  growing problem of fly-tipping at its local “bring sites” for recycling following the closure of the county council’s household waste and recycling centres due to coronavirus.

Winchester City Council has also reported an upsurge in fly-tipping since the Covid-19 lockdown, with one incident involving dumped waste blocking a country lane.

Enfield Council in London says its households are producing around 15% more waste than normal, and is using street cleaning teams to support refuse crews and temporarily clearing extra bags of rubbish being put out.

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Despite the inevitable impact of coronavirus, councils have been able to maintain household recycling collections as much as possible along with fly-tip clearance services.

“Fly-tipping is never acceptable,” he said.

“While some councils have reported fly-tipping increases, levels have also fallen in some places.

“There are concerns that unscrupulous traders are exploiting social distancing rules in some areas to try and provide illegal waste disposal services.

“Councils appreciate residents may have larger amounts of rubbish building up and they will continue to work hard to keep waste and recycling services working as effectively as possible.”

The Environment Department (Defra) said its latest advice to councils was to prioritise “black bag” residual rubbish to prevent the build-up of waste and to protect public health.

The Government is also encouraging councils to keep their waste and recycling centres open to ensure people can still get rid of bulky waste, but only if social distancing guidelines can be adhered to onsite.

Residents are urged only to take their rubbish to the tip if it is “essential” because the build-up of waste in the home poses a health or injury risk.

A Defra spokeswoman said: “Fly-tipping blights communities, spoils our countryside, and poses a risk to human health and the environment.

“We all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and now more than ever people must work together to support their communities during this challenging time.”

Richard Kirkman, from waste management company Veolia UK and Ireland, said that in some cases household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) were closed in response to the situation around coronavirus.

“Unfortunately many councils have reported an increase in fly-tipping and so we are working closely with Defra to solve this issue.

“We recommend partially opening some HWRCs with new, controlled guidelines for essential trips only, so that we can avoid unsafe fly-tipping which brings its own health concerns.

“We ask the public to bear with us as we prioritise key areas of service delivery, and to support our teams on the front line by following all Government advice themselves.”