Fly-tippers who destroy local beauty spots and hand huge clean-up bills to councils should be called out as environmental terrorists and treated as such.
That’s the opinion of a nationwide waste and recycling company, which has had enough of seeing hazardous materials dumped at the side of the road by people who lack any sort of moral code.
UK based BusinessWaste.co.uk says that the “fly-tippers” label is far too bland for the danger and destruction they cause, and a stronger term is needed as we head into a global climate emergency – especially as it emerges that organised crime is behind many large dumping incidents.
“We don’t think it’s too over-the-top calling these criminals ‘environmental terrorists’,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “They damage local communities and the countryside, and we need to make it a truly shameful crime, with truly fitting punishments”.
The cost of fly-tipping
According to UK government statistics there were over one million fly-tipping incidents in England alone in the year 2018/19.
- Fly-tipping is becoming a national epidemic, with incidents increasing by 8% year-on-year
- The clear up cost for incidents classed as a “large lorry load”, which comprised only around 3% of all incidents, was £12.9m.
- One third of incidents were classed as “small van load”, which points to rogue traders dumping their waste instead of paying rubbish tip charges
- Councils managed to issue 76,000 fixed penalty notices to fly-tipping offenders, while another 2,000 people were fined in court, raising some £1m – that’s an average fine of just £500.
“It’s infuriating,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk‘s Mark Hall, “These stats show that there are many people who are willing to risk a relatively small fixed penalty rather than pay gate charges at council waste facilities.
“And despite the increase in people getting caught, the figures show that they get away with it nine times out of ten.”
Now that it has emerged that a huge increase in large dumping incidents is the work of organised criminal gangs setting up fake waste removal companies**, it’s time to take a different tack and hit them with the full force of the law, with punishments to fit.
This is especially urgent as unscrupulous gangs offer services claiming they remove and dispose of hazardous waste such as chemicals and asbestos, putting public health and the environment at risk in the name of short-term profit.
Why is fly-tipping an act of terrorism?
Fly-tipping isn’t just an ugly blot on the landscape.
- Fly-tipped rubbish often contains chemicals and hazardous waste that needs to be dealt with safely.
- Dumping this waste in the countryside risks wildlife and water tables, and has serious long-term effects.
- Dumping this waste in urban areas like housing estates and alleyways risks the health of the public, especially inquisitive children.
“Fly-tippers don’t care about this, they’re only interested in the bottom line – their bank balance,” says Mark Hall.
“They may think of it as purely a business transaction, but it’s an act of terrorism against everyone and everything decent in this country.”
Punishments to fit the crime
BusinessWaste.co.uk appreciates the fact that courts can issue unlimited fines on environmental criminals who fly-tip their waste. However, the average fine is only £500, which would been seen as an acceptable risk for the offender.
But only 0.2% of offenders end up in court facing a fine, the majority (and that’s still only about 8% of all incidents) receiving a fixed penalty notice. The vast majority of cases remain undetected.
That’s why BusinessWaste.co.uk wants these criminals to be called Environmental Terrorists, with punishments to match.
- Prison sentences
- Community clear-up punishments
- Awareness courses, paid for by the offender
And if we wanted to go a bit medieval, there’s also
- The stocks, to be pelted with rubbish
- A walk of shame dressed as a bin
“We’re not seriously suggesting the stocks and public shaming,” says Mark Hall, “But now is the time to ram home the idea that fly-tipping is a crime against the whole community”.
It’s time to call out these people and shame them into changing their ways.