Will spy cameras help to dissuade Wigan's fly-tippers?
Wigan Council is stepping up the war on fly-tippers with hotspot spy cameras.
The announcement came as latest figures suggest that the authority has turned a corner in its battle with illegal waste dumpers.
Only last month a Wigan Observer request for details under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that there had been a slight rise to around 1,800 in fly-tipping incidents in the borough in the year ending March 31 2017.
But calendar year figures just released by the town hall show a big drop of 35 per cent, with 1,373 reports of fly-tipping in 2017 compared to 2,105 in 2016.
And there was more good news for the environment as the borough’s recycling rate has significantly increased and is on target to exceed the 50 per cent target set by central government as residents are recycling right and recycling more.
Since a controversial new regime of bin collections was introduced in September the rate has increased from 43 per cent to a current estimate of 48 per cent. And an extra 1,000 tonnes of recyclable waste has been collected compared to the previous year.
The new system sees the black bin for non-recyclables emptied only once every three weeks instead of two, while the blue bin for paper and card is collected more regularly.
As well as saving money, the system aims to make residents think more about putting waste in the correct containers.
Some locals had predicted it would not work, with certain households (especially those with large families or babies using disposable nappies) producing just too much non-recylable waste, to be able to cope. But the figures suggest that people are adapting.
"With Christmas being the busiest period for the crews and households producing more waste than the other months there have also just been increases of up to 17 per cent in the blue bin contents and increases of up to 30 per cent in the amounts placed in the brown (glass and plastics) bin.
As far as festive visits to the Kirkless recycling centre at Ince were concerned, the busiest day this year proved to be December 27, with 1,351 cars dropping off waste, compared to 1,238 on the same day last year.December 28 was also busier than last year’s but the following days - until the holidays were over - saw a slight dropping-off in visits compared to 2016.
The more people recycle and dispose of their waste correctly the more money the council saves through not having to pay the Government landfill tax, so helping it to keep council tax low.
Work has taken place to prevent fly-tipping at a number of key but undisclosed hotspot areas in the borough including barriers and the installation of CCTV.
The environmental enforcement team tackles all types of environmental crime, including fly-tipping, littering and dog fouling, and now work seven days a week so are able to deal with issues over the weekend.
It is also trialling CCTV cameras which will further help them to gather evidence to catch offenders.
Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for environment, said: "This is great news to start the new year and we’d like to say a big thank you to residents for recycling more and for doing their bit to look after the environment.
"These are early reports and the figures have not been verified but we’re making good progress and are confident with the new collections we can further drive up our recycling rates. We remain committed to having a clean and tidy borough and are pleased our work to reduce fly tipping is having a positive impact.
"We would encourage residents to keep reporting incidents to us so we can continue this work.
"In the first instance we will always work with residents to educate them around environmental crime and to ensure they understand how to properly dispose of their waste.
"It costs us money to clean up our communities and remove fly tipping.
"By residents not fly-tipping, recycling correctly and disposing of their waste correctly we can keep council tax low and continue to fund essential front line services."
But fly-tipping continues to blight areas of the borough. Only recently one of the worst cases of its kind was reported on land off Lamberhead Road in Norley.
For more information about recycling visit www.wigan.gov.uk/recycling
To report an incident of fly-tipping visit www.wigan.gov.uk/reportit or download the council’s Report It app via a smartphone.