There were over a million incidents of fly tipping last year in England alone. It’s an unsightly, and expensive, problem - costing nearly £60m of taxpayers' money to clean up in 2019. Now with the country in lockdown, and many Local Authority tips forced to close, fly tipping has spiked.
In Wigan, the Council has just reopened their recycling centres, after seeing a 51% increase in fly tipping during lockdown. Meanwhile in Manchester, Claire Benson, a volunteer for the charity Keep Britain Tidy, has been filming piles of rubbish near her home that she says have grown over the past few weeks:
“I’m just stunned by the amount of rubbish here. I would just like to understand why people in a pandemic would drive and dump this here and think it morally acceptable…”
In Tonight: Fly Tipping: Britain’s Rubbish Problem, reporter Jonathan Maitland also highlights the hotspots where fly tipping was rife - even before the lockdown.
He visits Newport, South Wales - to see a stretch of road dubbed ‘the road to nowhere’. Built as part of an industrial development, it was abandoned during construction - and the fly tippers moved in.
Local Councillor Brian Miles says he’s never seen it so bad.
“Looking at the waste that's down here, we think it's quite organised. There's a lot of shop clearance down here...it ranges from demolition to toys to clothes to fridges.”
So why has the site not been cleared?
Tonight asked the local authority responsible, Newport City Council, who told us that dealing with fly tipping here is a priority for them, and they have already undertaken numerous clean ups, recently removed hazardous waste, and are working to increase security measures in the area.
In late 2019, Rotherham Council’s longest running investigation into fly tipping culminated in two members of the same family being successfully convicted. They’d used social media and door-to-door leaflets to advertise their services in waste disposal.
“The total harm to the British economy, of waste crime, is estimated at about eight hundred million pounds a year.”
There are those looking to assist the authorities and make a difference in the countryside as well as the cities. Martin Montague created a phone app, ClearWaste, that allows anyone in the UK to report fly tipped waste:
“It knows exactly where you are, you take a picture of the waste and it sends it to the appropriate council. But also you can join groups on there to help with community clean ups. Or report anyone that you catch fly tipping.”
You can catch ITV Tonight's 'Fly Tipping: Britain's Lockdown Problem' on ITV at 7:30pm.