Wigan fly-tipping cases increase but fewer litter louts are prosecuted

More fly-tipped waste was discovered in Wigan last year, figures show, though fewer court fines were handed out.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 12:30 pm
A total of 941 fly-tipping incidents were reported to Wigan Council in 2020-21

The Country Land and Business Association said the “disgraceful behaviour” blights the countryside and warned that the true extent of fly-tipping across England is probably even higher than feared.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs data shows 941 fly-tipping incidents were reported to Wigan Council in 2020-21.

This was a six per cent increase on the 887 discoveries made the year before.

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However, no fines resulting from court convictions were issued in the area last year – down from four in 2019-20. Wigan Council carried out 1,085 enforcement actions in 2020-21, including 205 fixed penalty notices.

Across England, a record 1.1 million incidents of rubbish dumped on highways and beauty spots were found in 2020-21, up from 980,000 the previous year. But the number of court fines halved from 2,672 to just 1,313 – with their total value decreasing from £1.2 million to £440,000.

The CLA, which represents rural businesses, said the vast majority of fly-tipping occurs on private land, which the figures do not cover.

Mark Tufnell, president of the CLA, said: “These figures do not tell the full story of this disgraceful behaviour which blights our beautiful countryside.

“Fly-tipping continues to wreck the lives of many of us living and working in the countryside – and significant progress needs to be made to stop it. It’s not just the odd bin bag but large household items, from unwanted sofas to broken washing machines, building materials and even asbestos being dumped across our countryside.”

Wigan saw 2.8 fly-tipping incidents per 1,000 people last year – which was well below the average across England, of 20.1.

Household waste accounted for 695 incidents last year – 74 per cent of the total.

A council spokesperson said: “Not only is fly-tipping a criminal offence, it blights our environment and is expensive to clean up.

“Much of our waste management work prioritises education over enforcement, however, fly-tipping will not be tolerated and we will not hesitate to prosecute or issue fixed penalty notices to the perpetrators where we have the evidence to do so.

“We thank our residents for their continued support with this issue, as we are reliant on eye-witnesses of fly-tipping to come forward with as much information as possible, including vehicle registrations or a home address so we can take action.

“To reduce fly-tipping, we have three household waste and recycling centres across the borough that are open seven days a week, as well as a free bulky waste collection service.”

Sarah Lee, director of policy and campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said: “From quiet rural lanes and farmers’ fields to bustling town centres and residential areas, fly-tipping continues to cause misery across the country.

“Lockdown and the subsequent closure of tips only exacerbated this situation and we would urge local authorities to think very carefully about preventing access to these facilities in future.”

The Government said the first national coronavirus lockdown impacted many local authorities’ recycling programmes, and that changes to household purchasing may also have driven the increased fly-tipping.

Resources and Waste Minister Jo Churchill said: “During the pandemic, local authorities faced an unprecedented challenge to keep rubbish collections running and civic amenity sites open, and the Government worked closely with them to maintain these critical public services.

“We have already given local authorities a range of powers to tackle fly-tipping and we are going further; strengthening powers to detect and prosecute waste criminals through the new Environment Act.”

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