Mendip battles rising tide of fly-tipping with nearly 2,000 incidents last year
By Laura Linham
11th Feb 2024 | Local News
Mendip has witnessed a concerning uptick in fly-tipping incidents, with nearly 2,000 cases reported in the last year alone, prompting calls for tougher penalties against the perpetrators of this environmental blight.
Despite efforts to curb the illegal dumping of waste, figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reveal that Mendip saw 1,914 fly-tipping incidents in the year ending March 2023, marking a slight increase from the previous year's total of 1,896.
This translates to 16.4 incidents for every 1,000 residents in the area, highlighting a persistent challenge facing the community.
The majority of these unsightly dumps were found on highways, making up 91% of the total incidents, with household waste, particularly black bin bags, accounting for 44% of the problem. This issue is not isolated to Mendip, with fly-tipping on the rise across other areas as well, though national figures suggest a slight decrease in incidents across England.
Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has voiced its concern, noting a worrying 13% increase in larger scale dumps, equivalent to 'tipper lorry load' sizes or bigger.
Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE has called for a robust response, saying: "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.
"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 charity is advocating for stricter sentencing guidelines, higher fines, and even imprisonment for those engaged in fly-tipping as a business. They also stress the importance of public vigilance, urging individuals to only entrust their waste to licensed carriers.
Despite the rise in fly-tipping, the number of fixed penalty notices issued nationally has decreased, with only 10 issued in Mendip last year. Meanwhile, the average court fine for fly-tipping offences has seen a 13% increase, indicating a move towards harsher penalties for those caught.
Local authorities and environmental experts continue to press for more decisive action against fly-tippers, including better support from the government for councils tackling the issue. Darren Rodwell of the Local Government Association emphasized the need for more severe fines and for manufacturers to play a role in mitigating the problem by offering take-back services for bulky items.
He 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.
"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 acknowledged the challenge, highlighting government efforts to empower councils through grants, higher fines, and enhanced powers to combat fly-tipping. "We are making solid progress," he stated, "but we know there is more to do."