Fly-tipping in Wales: 'No interest' in dealing with issues

A paddling pool and TV dumped in a lay-by

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Neath Port Talbot Council

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A man was ordered to pay costs of more than £1,100 for dumping this waste in a lay-by in Resolven, Neath Port Talbot

Some counties have “no interest” in dealing with fly-tipping despite a record number of prosecutions in Wales, according to one council officer.

There were 128 prosecutions for fly-tipping in 2018-19, but more than half of these were in Neath Port Talbot.

While Neath Port Talbot said the rise was partially due to clearing a backlog of cases, it has also utilised legal powers other councils have not.

Welsh Local Government Association said councils took fly-tipping seriously.

Neath Port Talbot recorded 67 prosecutions in 2018-19 and, although this total was partly fuelled by a backlog of cases, the authority has been responsible for at least 30% of fly-tipping prosecutions in Wales for each of the past four years.

In July, one man was ordered to pay costs and fines of more than £1,100 for dumping a paddling pool, toys and an old TV in a lay-by in Resolven.

In a recent interview, Princess Anne described fly-tipping as a “major irritation”.

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This rubbish was dumped near Newport during the coronavirus lockdown

Leighton Case, who leads the fly-tipping team at Neath Port Talbot council, said part of the reason why more prosecutions were recorded was that he had a “dedicated” team of officers who used powers, such as vehicle seizure, to their full potential.

“Having been one of the main advocates for legislation change, our philosophy is that we should use everything we have available to us,” he said.

“We have been using it for a number of years. It gives you the upper hand on the person that you’re investigating.

“Once you have got their vehicle, they’re far more likely to tell you what you want to know. It’s a useful power to have.”

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Media captionA Newport road filled with rubbish

“[Other] local authorities have just got no interest to be honest,” he added.

“We have got neighbouring authorities that are doing absolutely nothing in terms of fly-tipping.

“Sometimes when we ask for support or information we’re not even getting it, which is really frustrating.

“There’s no reason why they couldn’t do it. It needs to been driven politically first of all and then they need to get a dedicated team of officers together.”

Aside from prosecution, there are a number of other steps local authorities can take to tackle fly-tipping.

The latest figures show in 2018-19 there were some 27,000 related enforcement actions across Wales, with about 19,800 investigations resulting in 3,000 warning letters, 1,700 statutory notices, 1,000 fixed penalty notices and three formal cautions.

‘A blight’

The Welsh Local Government Association said: “Fly-tipping and litter are a blight on our communities, one which all local authorities take seriously.

“All local authorities will seek to use the range of powers they have to deal with the issue. Unfortunately waste crime is increasingly organised and often there is no evidence of who the perpetrators are and, consequently, no opportunity to issue a fine.

“Therefore it is vital that householders make sure they know what is happening with any waste they have taken away and are aware that they may be subject to a fine if the material is subsequently fly-tipped.”

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