Coronavirus lockdown sees huge rise in fly-tipping across UK

  • Video report by ITV News Wales & West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

There has been a huge spike in fly-tipping in some parts of the UK during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Countryside Alliance reports a 300% rise in fly-tipping in some areas after local authorities closed recycling centres amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The rural communities campaign group blame people using the lockdown to have a "clear-out of homes and gardens" and dumping the resulting rubbish illegally.

Many councils have shut waste recycling centres during the coronavirus crisis to concentrate on kerbside collections.

The increase in fly-tipping is putting added pressure on local authorities already struggling to cope with maintaining services while ensuring the safety of their staff.

A huge pile of debris left at a recycling centre during the coronavirus lockdown. Credit: PA

While local authorities struggle to maintain basic services, the fight against fly-tipping has been largely left to campaigners and members of the public.

People have been sharing pictures of piles of rubbish left on verges and in fields on social media as environmental campaign groups urge the public to dispose of their waste responsibly during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Countryside Alliance said the impact this spike in fly-tipping was having on communities and the country was "unacceptable".

"We must all remember that fly-tipping is not a victimless crime and has a significant impact on rural areas and wildlife," the Alliance said in a statement.

Scotland’s leading rural and environmental organisations joined forces to urge "people not to be selfish".

"Now is not the time to try and get rid of items following a spring clean or DIY project, we are urging you to keep them at home until recycling centres re-open and charities begin to collect furniture and clothing again," a joint statement from NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland said.

"Please don’t be taken in by offers of cheap disposal – that’s likely to lead to others fly-tipping your items. Keeping items on your own property for a few weeks is better than taking part in a criminal act that could have longer term consequences, not to mention a fine of up to £40,000."

ClearWaste, an app that allows the public to report fly-tipping, shows nearly 4,000 examples of fly-tipping in England alone.

A huge pile of rubbish was found dumped in Leicestershire in front of a sign that warned fly-tipping offenders they faced a prison sentences or a fine.

The debris near Scraptoft included a bath, mattresses, bed frames, broken mirrors, toys and general household waste.

Local councillor Simon Galton described the tip as "disgusting", and said Harborough District Council were attempting to trace the culprits.

Liverpool City Council refuse and street cleansing teams last week urged residents to be considerate with their waste following an upsurge in fly-tipping in the city.

Extra staff from the city council's refuse partner LSSL were sent out over the weekend to collect illegally-tipped waste, which included white goods, furniture and discarded toys, despite a third of the workforce being unavailable due to illness or self-isolation.

LSSL’s Chief Operation Officer Mike Brown said: “Our refuse and street cleansing staff are working hard under difficult circumstances to manage the city’s waste.

"Unfortunately, we now have the actions of an irresponsible and selfish minority to contend with. Our crews have been out over the weekend but in the current climate, this sort of operation is unsustainable, which is why we are urging residents to work with us and be considerate about their waste."