Fly-tipping incidents in Preston have more than doubled in the last year, costing taxpayers more than £350,000, new figures show.
The number of fly-tipping incidents on public land in Preston have increased from 1,490 in 2015/16 to 3,040 in 2016/17, with Preston Council spending £359,553 to clear the chaos caused.
Across the north west, incidents rose by 10,664, meaning that Preston alone accounted for 14.5 per cent of all new incidents in the last financial year.
Gordon Wang, of Barry Avenue, Ingol, has had his fair share of dealings with fly-tipping, having had household rubbish he paid someone to take away wrongly disposed of in Back Lane, Lea.
Gordon said: “It’s really shocking. I don’t even like seeing litter on the streets, never mind fly-tipping.
“For me a lot of what is illegally dumped comes down to recycling centres and the costs attached to them. People just don’t want to pay.”
The 59-year-old, who is also chair of the Ingol Community Association, added: “Cracking down on irresponsible disposal of waste must be high on the council’s agenda.”
Preston Council cabinet member for planning and regulation, Coun Peter Moss, said: “The increased number of incidents in Preston could be attributed to re-training staff in the recording of fly-tipping incidents.”
The statistics, provided by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), reveal that Blackpool remains the fly-tipping capital of Lancashire with 3,920 reported incidents.
However that figure is falling, down from 4,190 the year before.
Blackpool Council’s Deputy Leader, Coun Gillian Campbell, said: “Blackpool Council is pro-actively targeting all types of fly-tipping.”
In Chorley, incidents have stabilised and slightly reduced in the last year, dropping from 886 to 880.
Incidents in Fylde have increased from 601 to 652. A spokesman from Fylde Council said that “there has been more partnership working between local authorities and the Environment Agency, sharing information and pursuing known offenders in their efforts to bring down the number”.
In South Ribble, incidents rose from 476 to 505.
In total more than £9million has been spent by councils across the north west.
The continued fight against fly-tipping has seen environment chiefs grant new powers to tackle the illegal dumping of waste.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced this week that Environment Agency officials will, for the first time, be able to padlock gates and block access to problem waste sites.
The powers will also enable them to force operators to clear all the waste at a problem site, with councils also able to fine householders whose waste ends up fly-tipped or illegally dumped.
Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: ”These new powers for the Environment Agency will curb the rise of waste sites that continue to operate outside the law.
“But we must all take responsibility for our waste to make sure it does not end up in the hands of criminals who wilfully dump it.”
Neighbourhood fight back
The Ingol and Tanterton Neighbourhood Council has allocated £8,400 to installing bollard barriers at a well-known fly-tipping hot spot.
The funding was agreed upon last December to better the fight against fly-tipping on Cottam Lane.
The barrier will comprise two static bollards and one central bollard which descends into the ground when residents require access.
Neighbourhood Coun Bill McGrath saying: “It allows passage for horses, cycles and mobility scooters - it just stops the cars. I’ve been trying to get the lane blocked off for the last 10 years.
“The last fly tipping that was down there was asbestos - old garage roofing.”
Resident Andrew Bolton, who has lived on the lane for 18 years, said: “More recently there has been a problem with fly-tipping.
“Everything you can think of has been dumped there – tyres, settees, beds. It will improve safety immensely on the lane.”
Taken to court
In December last year, one fly-tipper was fined more than £1,000 for dumping 15 bags of rubbish – including a toilet – in a Bamber Bridge alleyway.
Jamie Rose was paid £20 by a Preston couple to dispose of their building waste believing him to be a legitimate waste carrier.
The 24-year-old, of Station Road, was fined £1,100 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £110 and legal and clean-up costs of £405 at Preston Magistrates’ Court in December 20, 2017.
Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and streetscene, Coun Graham Walton, said at the time: “This sends a clear message that we will not tolerate fly-tipping on any scale – and that we are prepared to take legal action to bring the culprits to justice.”
What about private land?
The figures on fly-tipping don’t reflect the true cost of fly-tipping across the north west, one expert argues, with private land being hit hard by rouge waste disposal.
“With many authorities looking at introducing charges for bulky waste and organic waste collections and charging for dumping waste at council-run tips, there is a fear that fly-tipping incidents on farmland will increase,” William Nicholl, head of insurance specialist Lycetts’ rural division.
“Farmers are not only having to fork out for clean-up costs but are having to worry about the damage it can cause to workers and their animals.”
In October 2017 a Post investigation found that new powers given to councils across Lancashire saw fines of hundreds of pounds issued to fly-tippers.
Between May 2016 and May 2017, a total of 13 on the spot fines were issued by Lancashire’s borough and city councils, totalling £3,050.
More than 4,600 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued nationally, collecting £773,000 for councils, meaning that Lancashire accounted for less than one per cent of all FPNs issued.
We asked each council who presented figures in October for an update on the use of on FPNs since April 2017 to December 2017...
++ In Preston, Seven FPNs were issued. Six were paid within seven days, reducing each penalty to £200.
++ In Blackpool, 24 FPNs were issued in this time frame, totalling £9,600.
++ In South Ribble, three FPNs were issued. No data was supplied regarding total cost.
++ In Chorley, one FPN was issued totalling £200.
++ In Wyre, three FPNs were issued. Two are currently unpaid and the other was £250.
++ In Fylde, three FPNs were issued, totalling £600. Fines are £400 each but reduced to £200 for paying within 14 days.
++ In Lancaster, 13 FPNs were issued ‘exceeding £1000’.
Coun Peter Moss, Preston Council cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “Fly tipping is a major eyesore and a drain on council budgets and tax payers’ money.
“Options for enforcement officers are fixed penalty notices and/or a prosecution at Magistrates’ court, but each case must pass a ‘threshold test’ first. There must be sufficient evidence to prove the offender committed the offence. For cases where prosecution is an option, it must be determined to also be in the public interest once the threshold test has been passed.
“Officers issued seven penalty notices between April and December 2017, six of which have been paid. One other offender is facing prosecution. This sends a clear message that we will investigate thoroughly all fly tipping cases reported to us, and take action where we can.
“The increased number of incidents in Preston could be attributed to re-training staff in the recording fly tipping incidents.
“There also seemed to be an increase in extra waste over the recent festive period, and we would remind residents to recycle as much as possible.
“We do need the public’s help to report any sightings of fly tipping, and to provide any evidence they have, so we can have an even greater impact on tackling the issue. Anyone can report such incidents via the council’s website.”
Coun Brendan Hughes, Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental services, said: “The clearing up of illegally dumped rubbish from whatever source continues to be constant battle for the council and the environment as well as being an unnecessary burden on the council taxpayer’s purse.
“Fly-tipping comes in all shapes and sizes; whether it be a bag of household rubbish left in an alley way, unwanted building materials dumped at the side of a road or at a local beauty spot or an empty crisp packet thrown from a car window, everyone should take pride in the district and look after the environment by disposing of their rubbish responsibly.
“To help the council crack down on this persistent and inconsiderate crime, I would urge members of the public to make sure they are disposing of their rubbish responsibly and if they witness an incident of fly-tipping that they report any evidence of the perpetrators to the council’s customer service team tel. 01524 582491 so that we can take action against them.”
Coun Paul Walmsley, who oversees fly tipping at Chorley Council, said; “Any amount of fly tipping is too much, it’s unsightly, illegal, dangerous, pollutes land and waterways and it costs our council tax payers thousands of pounds a year to deal with, which is money that could be better spent on other things.
“We use a range of methods to tackle fly tipping including CCTV and warning signs and we also work closely with other agencies to share information. If the fly tipping takes place on private land, we will advise the land owner to take preventative measures to stop it from happening again.
“We urge people to be our eyes and ears and report incidents of fly tipping to us so we can deal with it as quickly as possible. Reporting can be done online at chorley.gov.uk and it can be done anonymously.
“There is no excuse for fly tipping and we take it extremely seriously, we will issue fixed penalty notices against culprits and we will pursue prosecution of larger scale fly tipping through the courts.”
When contacted, a Ribble Valley spokesman said: “Ribble Valley has experienced an increase in fly-tipping in recent years, involving everything from fridges and sofas to carpets and concrete.
“Fly-tipping undermines legitimate business, blights the countryside and is a public health risk, and we are determined to tackle it.
“Anyone caught fly-tipping in our borough will feel it in their back pocket with fixed penalty notices of up to £400.”
Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and streetscene, Coun Graham Walton, said: “Our tough stance on fly-tipping is having a positive effect and we are well on track to a significant drop in the number of cases this year.
“In 2016, we introduced fines of up to £400 – the highest amount possible. This, along with our preventative measures, is having a big impact on the number of cases we’re seeing. A recent, high-profile prosecution also sent out a clear message that fly-tipping will simply not be tolerated in our borough.
“We are working proactively in the community – gathering intelligence; patrolling fly-tip hot spots; sending warning letters; and putting up deterrent signs – to make sure we continue to see fly-tipping decrease in South Ribble.
“We encourage the public to help us by reporting evidence of fly-tipping to the council. By working together, we will make sure our borough is not blighted by this selfish behaviour.”