Fly-tipping clear up costs �4.2m

MAGISTRATES are to be provided with new guidance on sentencing fly-tippers who cost East Anglian councils millions of pounds every year in clean-up costs.

MAGISTRATES are to be provided with new guidance on sentencing fly-tippers who cost East Anglian councils millions of pounds every year in clean-up costs.

Figures for local authorities in the region show �4.2m was paid out last year by councils forced to clear up the mess, much of it household waste.

Magistrates are currently guided by a document called Costing the Earth, written in 2003, which is about to be updated to reflect the growing number of cases coming to court.

A Magistrates' Association spokeswoman said: “Quite often we are criticised for not sentencing more harshly. However, often these crimes are dealt with by way of a fine and our problem is we have to abide by case law which says we should not fine anyone more than they can realistically pay in a year but it is often very tough getting accurate financial details from people.

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“We also have the power to confiscate a vehicle where there is evidence it has been used in the act of fly tipping but often this is very difficult to prove unless there is CCTV footage or a photograph.”

According to information collected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 72,000 incidents were dealt with by local authorities in the East of England between April 2007 and March last year but only 132 prosecutions were successful.

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Mark Allen, Norfolk County Council's waste resource manager (operations), said: “If you look at the figures, fly-tipping in the county is actually on a downward trend. In 2005/6 there were 15,000 incidents, in 2006/7 12,300 and in 2007/8 11,600. This is due to two things - education and enforcement. The county council and city, borough and district councils have done a lot of work educating residents about what they can do with their waste in terms of recycling and what they can put in their normal bins.

“There has also been a lot of work on enforcement, with some councils even hiring special officers who purely deal with this issue.”

Mr Allen said claims that people fly-tipped because rules at waste recycling centres were too stringent was unfair.

He said: “If you look at the type of material that has been tipped for 2007/8, 56pc was black bags of household waste or other household waste which could go into bins or be taken for free to household waste recycling centres.”

Bob Wade, Broadland Council's environmental protection manager, said: “We have taken and will continue to take legal action through the courts against offenders. We are hopeful this year will see a reduction in fly-tipping incidents as a result of increased enforcement and assistance from the public and our partners. In public areas we will clear fly-tipping within one working day of notification.”

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