Calls for tougher penalties to tackle 'growing menace' of fly-tipping

A huge mound of rubbish found at Davidstow Woods near Camelford in November.

The government is being urged to introduce tougher penalties for fly-tipping by politicians in the South West.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) across the region have written a joint letter to Environment Minister Therese Coffey calling for "urgent action" to be taken to tackle the issue.

The letter, written by PCCs for Avon and Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, described the illegal dumping as a "growing menace" and the "anti-social behaviour of the countryside".

It comes after a number of fly-tipping incidents in the region, including one where parts of a dismantled caravan were dumped at a beauty spot in the Cotswolds and another fly-tip which contained more than 100 tyres as well as litter and asbestos in East Devon.

Parts of a discarded caravan found at a beauty spot near Cirencester Credit: Julia Judd

The government has told the group it will consider the suggestions that were made in the letter.

The PCC letter encouraged "tougher penalties” to be brought in to meet the Government’s target of eradicating waste crime by 2043.

There have been measures brought in across the region to tackle the issue, including spy cameras which were installed in fly-tipping hotspots in the Cotswolds. But the PCCs have asked for more to be done to deter people from illegally dumping items in the first place.

Dozens of tyres scattered in the layby at a East Devon beauty spot Credit: ITV West Country

The letter suggests raising the maximum fixed penalty notice for small-scale fly-tipping from £400 to £1,000 as well as imposing a minimum fine of £50,000 for repeat large-scale offenders.

Philip Wilkinson, the PCC for Wiltshire and Swindon, said fly-tipping has become a huge issue in his area.

“Fly-tipping has a detrimental effect on the environment and it’s something we need to crack down on in Wiltshire," he said.

"It’s not only destroying our beautiful countryside, but also costing our already stretched local authorities millions of pounds.

“We believe it’s time to put the cost onto the criminals, not the taxpayers. With the current cost of living crisis, this change has never been so crucial."

Fly-tip found on a country lane in Upton St Leonards

The government has said it will consider the suggestions made by the PCC's.

Dorset PCC David Sidwick said: “This is a step in the right direction, and I am pleased that DEFRA will be taking into consideration our suggestions.

"Fly-tipping is a blight that causes a nuisance to residents, makes areas appear run down and creates potential health hazards. I committed to working with partner agencies to find new ways to tackle this problem.”