New figures today reveal the shocking estimated costs of clean-up operations across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
In the last 12 months Telford has been targeted with an average of eight fly-tipping incidents a day.
The figure makes it one of the biggest fly-tipping hotspots in England.
In April last year a mountain of illegally dumped rubbish was discovered at land off the A4169 at Horsehay.
It cost Network Rail more than £40,000 to clear the site, with 25 lorry loads needed to remove piles of clothes, food packaging, toys, and even family photographs.
The same month more than 20 fridges and freezers and a caravan were discovered at Corbet Wood car park, a popular area for walkers close to Grinshill, just north of Shrewsbury.
The Shropshire Council area has seen a slight drop in illegal dumping in the last year, but still sees three cases of fly-tipping every day.
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In total Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have been hit with just under 4,000 incidents in the 12 months up to March.
The Local Government Association has warned that councils are facing an ‘epidemic’ of fly-tipping, with potentially huge expense to the tax-payer.
Clearing up the rubbish and pursuing prosecutions against those responsible is estimated to have cost Telford & Wrekin Council around £246,800 last year, and £76,000 for the Shropshire authority.
Martin Tett, of the LGA, said: “This new analysis shows the scale of the fly-tipping epidemic – Shropshire is facing unacceptable environmental vandalism.
An epidemic of fly-tipping
Piles of fridges dumped at a Shropshire beauty spot, mountains of toys, food packets, and even family photos piled up in the Telford countryside – fly-tipping continues to be a hugely costly problem for local authorities.
And today there was a fresh warning that illegal dumping is reaching epidemic proportions across the country.
New figures have shown there are now on average 11 fly-tipping incidents every day across Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire.
Shropshire has seen a decline in incidents in the past 12 months, but Telford & Wrekin is now one of the country’s biggest hot spots, with an average of eight incidents a day.
The cost comes financially but also in time and effort to clear up mess. And for people living in rural communities it is a constant threat, blighting their neighbourhoods.
The lengths people will go to get ride of waste without paying is extraordinary.
Last year a car crashed into a 12-tonne pile of rubble left dumped on a road in Tibberton, Shropshire. Luckily no-one was seriously hurt.
Earlier this year a Telford couple were fined more than £300 for fly-tipping Christmas cards and wrapping after they paid someone else to take it away. The rubbish was found at the end of Shrubbery Road, Red Lake – complete with names and messages that led investigators back to the address.
And in June, fly-tippers struck on an industrial scale, leaving mounds of waste and unwanted items behind homes, in a pile that stretched 50 yards..
The abandoned waste in Stebbings, Sutton Hill, included children’s toys, furniture and electronics.
Shropshire Council today welcomed at slight decline seen in its area. But it is still estimated that the county has spent £76,000 on clean-up operations and pursuing prosecutions of those responsible.
The authority said it was not able to assess how much the crime has cost it in the past 12 months.
Shropshire is not the only part of the country suffering with the increasing problem of illegal rubbish dumping.
Data released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today revealed the scale of what the Local Government Association has described as the “epidemic facing councils across the country”.
The figures show that almost a million incidents were recorded in England in 2017-18.
In Telford & Wrekin, there were 2,911 fly-tipping incidents in the 12 months to March, one of the highest numbers of any local authority in England.
This was an increase of three per cent from five years ago, when there were 2,819.
In Shropshire there were 1,073 fly-tipping incidents in the 12 months to March. In 2012-13, there were 1,320 incidents, 19 per cent higher than the current levels.
Across England, fly-tipping increased by 40 per cent over the same period.
Despite the large high profile incidents seen in the county over the past year it is the small scale waste dumping that has been most common in Telford & Wrekin.
The majority of incidents involved single items or bags of rubbish, rather than larger volumes of waste.
However, the area is also seeing increasing numbers of large-scale tips, involving a lorry-load of rubbish or more.
The Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said councils were determined to end the “scourge” of fly-tipping.
Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the LGA, said: “This new analysis shows the scale of the fly-tipping epidemic we face in this country.
“Fly-tipping is unsightly and unacceptable environmental vandalism.
“It’s an absolute disgrace for anyone to think that they can use the environments in which our residents live as a repository for litter.”
The most common type of waste dumped in both Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire was household waste.
In Telford it accounted for 1,501 incidents, and in Shropshire 516.
The next most prevalent type of fly-tipping was black bags of household rubbish and white goods such as fridges or washing machines.
The majority of fly-tipping sites in Telford – 62 per cent of them – were on council land, and in Shropshire it was roads, at 86 per cent.
Clearing up the rubbish and taking action against perpetrators is estimated to have cost Telford & Wrekin around £246,800 last year, and £76,000 for Shropshire.
Councils can take a range of actions against fly-tipping, from sending warning letters to launching prosecutions.
Last year Telford & Wrekin Council took action on 3,146 occasions, up from 2,408 in 2012-13. These included launching 2,601 investigations, sending out 489 warning letters and undertaking 35 inspections. It also carried out one prosecution, resulting in a fine worth £1,200.
In Shropshire, the council took action on 328 occasions last year, down from 370 in 2016-17. These included launching 310 investigations and sending out 18 warning letters. There were no prosecutions, however.
“Councils are determined to protect local environments,” Mr Tett continued.
“New fixed penalty notice powers from the Government will help but every single conviction for more serious fly-tipping offences still results in council taxpayers having to pick up the bill.
“We need to make sure that when councils take offenders to court, a faster, more effective legal system ensures that serious fly-tipping offences result in hard-hitting fines.”
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, has welcomed the drop in incidents in the area, but encouraged people to report incidents when they see them.
Farmers are forced to deal with dangerous waste
Fly-tipping has become a huge problem to farming communities and some of the rubbish is ‘dangerous’, a Shropshire farmers representative said today.
Sarah Faulkner, NFU environment and rural affairs adviser for Shropshire and the West Midlands, says at least two thirds of farmers have been affected by fly-tipping.
She said: “It is amazing what is dumped. Everything from builders’ rubble and white goods through to the remnants of items associated with cannabis production and industrial waste such as asbestos.
“Some of the rubbish is very dangerous, not just to us but to livestock and wildlife, and some of it is incredibly polluting to the environment.” She said the problem could get worse in the winter months when the nights draw in sooner.
The NFU says it continues to lobby the Government to establish targets for local authorities and for the Environment Agency to support and enable farmers and landowners’ efforts to deter, remove and clear fly-tipped waste from private land at no cost. Mrs Faulkner said: “There is a new fixed penalty being used as an additional tool to penalise anyone caught fly-tipping, but it needs enforcing by local authorities.
“We estimate at least two thirds of farmers have been affected by fly-tipping and our Love Your Countryside campaign helps raise awareness of the issue to the public.
“The campaign aims to remind homeowners they have a duty of care to ensure their rubbish is disposed of correctly while encouraging them to report any unscrupulous rogue traders.
“The NFU also wants to see all incidents of fly-tipping on private land, including highways and canals, added to the data already collected on public areas, in order to give a fuller picture of the scale of the problem.”
The NFU and Crimestoppers have also launched a new service to help tackle theft, wildlife crime and industrial-scale fly tipping, which is blighting rural areas and farm businesses.
A new ‘rural crime reporting line’ is available on 0800 7830137.
It is part of the NFU’s ongoing work to tackle the serious issues surrounding criminal behaviour on farms and in the wider countryside, specifically relating to large-scale industrial fly-tipping, hare coursing and machinery and livestock theft.
Gove planning crackdown
Environment Secretary Michael Gove says he wants to bring in measures to crackdown on fly-tippers.
He has announced a consultation on ways to fight people who litter or contribute to illegal waste sites.
Action cannot come quick enough for some of those affected in Shropshire this year.
A lane at Yorton Heath, near Shrewsbury, has been filled with ironing boards, bags of rubbish, clothes and dozens of shoe boxes. A resident was issued with a £400 fixed penalty notice after dumping wallpaper and carpeting in Sutton Hill, Telford. A builder was also caught dumping rubbish in Forden, near Welshpool, and fined. Four bin bags he discarded contained information that gave away his address and he was charged £400.
Fly-tipping is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months in prison if the case is heard by magistrates, but it can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison in crown court. Mr Gove’s review will consider what else the Environment Agency, the environment department, local authorities, the private sector and police can do, and make recommendations on tackling organised waste crime, which particularly affects rural areas. The secretary of state said: “Organised criminals running illegal waste dumps and fly-tipping are blighting local communities.
“They cost our economy vast amounts of money, pollute our environment and harm our wildlife.
“We must crack down on these criminals who have no regard for the impact they have on people’s lives. The time is right for us to look at how we can best tackle these crimes.”