Kettering major fly-tipping clearance costs rocket

More than £20,000 was spent on clearing large amounts of rubbish

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 13th February 2020, 2:00 pm

The number of major fly-tipping incidents in Kettering has reached a record high.

A total of £20,190 of taxpayers' cash was spent clearing rubbish dumped in 86 large-scale incidents last year with a tipper lorry required on 58 occasions, an average of more than once a week.

The previous year the borough had 36 major fly-tipping incidents and in 2011-12 there was just 10 - with last year's clearance costs making up almost half of Kettering Council's eight-year spend.

Waste dumped in Crown Street in Kettering.

Kettering Council's leader of the opposition, Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab), said he thinks the approach to tackling fly-tipping is "inadequate".

He said: "Fly-tipping shows a complete lack of respect and consideration but I think they (offenders) see other people doing it and therefore might think it's appropriate.

"There needs to be more education and actually residents want the council to step in.

"This money is being wasted if we can reduce incidents in the first place."

The authority's spend far eclipsed that of neighbouring councils, with East Northamptonshire Council spending 50 times less (£402) to clear just five incidents.

Corby Council almost halved their number of major fly-tips, down from 52 to 27, and spent £5,196 clearing the resulting waste. Wellingborough Council spent £4,800 clearing 25 incidents.

Some of those responsible for blighting areas of the borough of Kettering have been caught.

Last year Liam Rodwell, owner of L R Garden and Home Improvements, was ordered to pay thousands after dumping his customers' rubbish in Geddington and Cranford.

Those caught fly-tipping can also be slapped with a fixed penalty notice. In November we asked Kettering Council how many fixed penalty notices they had given out in 2019 for all fly-tipping under Freedom of Information laws.

Despite receiving hundreds of reports they issued just one. The area with the highest number of fly-tips was Highfield Road (66).

Kettering Council's environment portfolio holder, Cllr Ian Jelley, has been contacted for comment.

Analysis by the BBC Shared Data Unit, which the Northants Telegraph partners with, found the number of incidents of large-scale fly-tipping nationally has more than doubled since 2012.

Anything above the size of a lorry-load can be investigated by the Environment Agency, although the cost of clearance lies with the local council.

Police and environmental groups say the nature of fly-tipping is changing - a shift driven by a surge in criminal gangs offering illegal waste clearing services.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said the rise was truly shocking.

She said: “The introduction of fixed penalty notices for minor fly-tipping offences and for householders who don’t make checks before giving waste to fly-tippers is a start.

“However, to tackle the larger scale crime, local authorities need to be properly resourced if we are to make a difference.

“This is particularly pertinent given that the cost of clearing up incidents like this is borne directly by local authorities and comes at a time when their budgets are under huge pressure."

Cllr David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Fly-tipping is illegal, a serious public health risk, and costs taxpayers in England tens of millions of pounds a year to clear up.

“This is why councils take the issue very seriously and took action on nearly half a million incidents in 2018/19 – around 5,000 more than the previous year and up by nearly 75,000 in six years."

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months in prison if convicted in a magistrates' court.

The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years behind bars if convicted in a crown court.

However, very few of the toughest sentences are handed out. Only two £50,000 fines were handed out in 2018-19.

Manchester recorded the highest average number of major tips cleared per year (1,671) during the eight years. They also had the highest clearance costs (£4.3m)

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “Fly-tipping blights communities and poses a risk to human health and the environment.

“It also undermines legitimate waste businesses where unscrupulous operators undercut those operating within the law."